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Meet NASA’s 1st Black Intl. Space Crew Member

Earlier this week, NASA announced that for the first time ever, an African-American will call the international space station home.

According to an announcement posted to the administration’s website, Jeanette Epps will launch her first space flight in May 2018, making her the first Black space station crew member.

Epps, who will join veteran astronaut Andrew Feustel, will serve as a flight engineer on Expedition 56. Epps will also remain on board the station for Expedition 57.

“Each space station crew brings something different to the table, and Drew and Jeanette both have a lot to offer,” said Chris Cassidy, chief of the Astronaut Office at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “The space station will benefit from having them on board.”

Epps earned her bachelor’s degree in physics in 1992. She is a graduate of LeMoyne College in her hometown of Syracuse, New York. She went on to earn a master’s of science in 1994 and a doctorate in 2000 in aerospace engineering from the University of Maryland.

While earning her doctorate, Epps was a NASA Graduate Student Researchers Project fellow. She authored several journal and conference articles on her research. After completing graduate school, she went on to work in a research lab for more than two years, where she co-authored several patents before being recruited by the Central Intelligence Agency. She spent seven years as a CIA technical intelligence officer before being tapped to be a member of the 2009 astronaut class.

Epps will join a long list of distinguished astronauts who have crewed the International Space Station since the start of the millennium.  Since 2000, more than 200 astronauts have visited the station, which enables us to demonstrate new technologies and make research breakthroughs not possible on Earth.