Black Girl Magic will forever be a thing. And Black women continue to make the history books this week as Dr. Sian Proctor became the first-ever Black female spacecraft pilot.
The geoscientist, artist and science communicator became a finalist in NASA’s astronaut candidate program back in 2009.
Last night, she officially became an astronaut when she launched to orbit with the Inspiration4 mission — the first-ever all civilian mission.
“I’m really grateful to be here and to have this opportunity,” Proctor said per Space.com. “There have been three Black female astronauts that have made it to space, and knowing that I’m going to be the fourth means that I have this opportunity to not only accomplish my dream, but also inspire the next generation of women of color and girls of color and really get them to think about reaching for the stars and what that means.”
Only three other Black females have traveled to space. The first-ever Black woman to fly to space was Mae Jemison. Jemison traveled to space on shuttle Endeavour with the STS-47 mission in 1992. Stephanie Wilson and Joan Higginbotham also flew NASA shuttle missions.
“Growing up as a Black female and always trying to be a high achiever and not mess up,” Proctor added, “just having that pressure on yourself of thinking about not wanting to be eliminated, not wanting to miss out, [you have to] make sure you’re the best of the best, because you’re opening up the door for the people who follow you.”
“A lot of times, you know, if you’re in a position of a role model, if you slip or you mess up, then it means that you’re kind of shutting the door for those behind you,” she added.
Proctor, 51, also makes history as the oldest Black woman to go to space.
“Being an older Black female in my 50s, I think that I think it’s just going to be inspiring to see that those dreams that you had when you were a kid can still come to, because a lot of times we think that we’ve missed our prime in our 20s and our 30s go by, and then we get into our 40s. And we’re like, ‘oh, yeah, all right.’ But it’s not true.”