NASA’s Jeanette Epps to become 1st Black woman to join long-term ISS crew
Epps was selected as a member of the astronaut class in 2009.
PHOTO COURTESY: NASA.
NASA astronaut Jeanette Epps has been assigned to NASA’s Boeing Starliner-1 mission aboard the International Space Station, the space agency has announced. She will join fellow NASA astronauts Sunita Williams and Josh Cassada on the six-month expedition, set to launch in 2021. It will make Epps the first Black woman to join the ISS crew on a long-term mission.
In 2018, Epps was selected to become an ISS crew member, a move that would have made her the first Black person to participate in a long-duration space mission.
She was pulled from the assignment last minute and replaced by Serena M. Auñón-Chancellor. In a brief press release, NASA did not provide any explanation for the crew change.
Her brother, Henry Epps, blamed racism, but Jeanette declined to comment on the re-assignment.
In response to accusations of racism, NASA responded by saying, “Diversity and inclusion are integral to mission success at NASA, and we have a diverse astronaut corps reflective of that approach.”
Epps earned a bachelor’s degree in physics in 1992 from LeMoyne College in Syracuse, New York. She completed a master’s degree in science in 1994 and a doctorate in aerospace engineering in 2000, both earned from the University of Maryland, College Park.
As a Ph.D. student, she was part of the NASA Graduate Student Researchers Project fellowship program.
Two years after grad school, she was recruited by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), where she spent seven years working as a technical intelligence officer. In 2009, she was selected as a member of the astronaut class.