Monday, August 15, 2022

NASA Astronaut Jessica Watkins to Make History with ISS Mission

A portrait of NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins. (Image credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

*NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins is preparing to make history as the first Black woman to embark on an extended mission in space.

NASA previously announced that Watkins will serve as a mission specialist on the SpaceX Crew-4 mission slated for April, and is expected to last six months. This will be Watkins’ first flight to space. NASA selected Watkins for its astronaut program in 2017. 

“I’m very excited about the diversity on this team, this amazing group of people. I think that says a lot about NASA and their goals towards creating a diverse workforce,” she said at the time. “I think the thing about diversity is that it allows for experiences that may not be exactly the same to bring different things to the table. And then the other side of that… is the idea of being able to be a face to others who may not see people who look like them in STEM fields in general, and doing cool things like going to space.”

READ MORE: First Look at Viola Davis as Michelle Obama in ‘The First Lady’ Series

Here’s more from NPR

Watkins will cover a lot of ground on her mission: earth and space science, biological science and human research into things like the effects of long-duration spaceflight for humans. That’s when the astronauts themselves become “the lab rats,” Watkins told NPR. Over the course of her six-month mission, Watkins will also observe and photograph geological changes on Earth

Per Space.com, “less than 10 of the approximately 250 people who have been to the ISS have been Black,” the outlet writes.

Only three Black women have flown to space: NASA astronauts Stephanie Wilson and Joan Higginbotham, and Inspiration4 astronaut Sian Proctor. Meanwhile, Watkins along with Yvonne Cagle and Jeanette Epps (who are both Black) have been selected to join NASA’s astronaut corps but have not yet flown to space.

“I think it’s important to recognize this as a milestone for our agency and for our country, as well, to know that we are building on the foundation that was laid by the Black woman astronauts who’ve come before me,” Watkins told NPR’s Morning Edition. “I’m definitely honored to be a small part of that legacy, but ultimately be an equal member of the crew.”

“We are all coming together to accomplish this really hard thing that none of us would be able to do on our own,” Watkins told NPR. “I think that is just such a beautiful picture of what we can all do if we come together and put all of our resources and skill sets together

Ny MaGee
Ny MaGee is an entertainment reporter with over 15 years of experience working in the film industry in areas including production and post-production, marketing, distribution, and acquisitions. She has worked for legendary film producer Roger Corman, Quentin Tarantino's production team at Miramax, the late Larry Flynt, MTV/ VH1, Hallmark Channel, Paramount, Jim Henson Co., Parade Magazine, and various LA-based companies representing above-the-line talent.

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