NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins will be the first Black woman to join the International Space Station crew next year.
Watkins will live and work on the space station during a long-term mission. According to NASA, she will launch in April of next year and will serve as a mission specialist for the agency’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission for its fourth crew rotation.
This will be her first trip into space after being selected as an astronaut candidate in 2017, making her a part of a small group of Black astronauts to visit the station. According to NBC News, in 2018 NASA astronaut Jeanette Epps was expected to be the first Black person, man or woman, to visit the space station but was replaced last minute. Epps’ brother claimed racist behavior from the agency, however, NASA never gave an explanation to the last-minute switch up.
Watkins was also chosen last year to take part in the multibillion-dollar Artemis program which aims to put more people, including the first person of color, on the moon.
In a video from NASA, Watkins expresses her eagerness to work with her team to go to the moon, stating that the endeavor will be difficult but she is confident they can pull it off.
NASA plans to put a person of color on the moon by 2025.