Jessica Watkins: First Black Woman Astronaut To Live And Work On The International Space Station!

by Gee NY
Jessica Watkins. Image Credit: NASA

NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins has etched her name in history books as the first black woman to embark on a journey to the International Space Station (ISS)!

As a member of the four-person crew on the SpaceX Crew-4 mission, Watkins spent six months in space conducting scientific experiments.

Watkins completed her first spaceflight as a mission specialist on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission (April 27 – Oct. 14, 2022), having logged a total of 170 days in space over her two increments, Expedition 67 and 68.

Hailing from Maryland but considering Colorado her hometown, Watkins pursued Geological and Environmental sciences at Stanford University before earning a doctorate in Geology from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Describing herself as a “rock nerd,” Watkins joined NASA’s astronaut candidate class in 2017 after completing two years of rigorous training, including flight training, survival training, and spacewalk practice.

Before her space mission, Watkins contributed to NASA’s Mars rover, Curiosity, as part of the science team. When not preparing for space exploration, she enjoys various activities such as rugby, basketball, football, skiing, and writing.

Expressing her hopes to inspire young girls of color, Watkins sees her journey as an opportunity to set an example of success.

Her milestone follows the trailblazing achievements of African Americans in space, including Guion Bluford, the first African American to fly in space in 1983, Dr. Mae Carol Jemison, the first African American woman in space in 1992, and Bernard Harris, the first African American to perform a spacewalk in 1995.

Watkins was joined on the Crew-4 mission are NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren and Robert Hines, along with European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti.

The crew’s mission aboard the ISS involved conducting science experiments, testing new technologies, and performing research not feasible on Earth.

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