Jessica Watkins prepares for ISS liftoff and makes history on the space station
Jessica Watkins will soon make history by becoming the first black woman to join the International Space Station for her maiden journey into space.
As previously reported by leGrio, the Colorado-born astronaut will serve as a mission specialist with the four-person crew aboard the new SpaceX Crew Dragon named Freedom. Speak Orlando Sentinelliftoff east from Kennedy Space Center Launch Pad 39-A is scheduled for Saturday, April 23 at 5:26 a.m.
“We’re becoming the representatives, kind of the tip of the spear if you will, of a huge team of people,” Watkins said, according to the report. “For me, I am truly honored to be part of the long legacy of black astronauts and black female astronauts who have come before me. I am also grateful to have the opportunity to play a small part in this exciting future.
Watkins will be joined by fellow NASA astronauts Commander Kjell Lindgren, Pilot Robert Hines and European Space Agency Mission Specialist Samantha Cristoforetti. Their mission should last six months.
The 33-year-old once said The New York Times that becoming an astronaut was “something I had dreamed of for a very long time since I was little, but certainly not something I thought would ever happen”.
In 2017, NASA selected Watkins, a geologist, as one of its first astronaut candidates out of a record 18,300 applicants. Only twelve people made it to the final class, and Watkins was the only black woman in the group.
Watkins majored in mechanical engineering at Stanford, then turned to the study of planetary geology, which was more in line with her passions. She graduated from UCLA with her doctorate in geology and started working on the Mars rover. In an interview with The temperatureshe noted the importance of representation in science and the expiration of space, especially for young girls “to see an example of how they can participate and be successful”.
“As a geologist, this is my background. I’m super excited to have the opportunity to just observe the Earth and kind of use the unique vantage point, the unique perspective that we can get from the ISS to be able to observe geological features and processes.” , she said, Orlando Sentinel.
Her teammates nicknamed her “Watty”, and Lindgren said she “has no idea how boring we’re going to be” during the mission.
“It’s so amazing to look down from the cupola, to look down at the ground, to see the Earth, and to constantly ask yourself, ‘How did this happen?’ … now we have our own team of geologists who we will constantly call to the window. I know she says she’ll be happy to do it, but I think we’re going to test her patience.
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