Jeanette Epps Will Become the 1st African American Crew Member of the International Space Station


January 6, 2017

Jeanette Epps isn’t just traveling into space, she’s unpacking her bags for an extended stay at the International Space Station. What is the International Space Station? We’re glad you asked! It’s a home in orbit. It allows astronauts from not only the United States, but other countries to live and conduct research in science labs in order to move us one step closer to life in outer space. While African Americans have traveled into space, this is the first time that an African American will be living and working at the space station as a crew member. The station, which weighs almost a million pounds and is the equivalent of a 5-bedroom home, can house 6 crew members at a time; two of which are from the United States.

Epps earned her bachelors degree in physics from LeMoyne College and her masters of science and doctorate in aerospace engineering from the University of Maryland. She has co-authored patents, was a NASA fellow, published numerous articles pertaining to her research and even worked for the CIA. Her impressive educational and career accomplishments made her an ideal candidate for NASA when she was selected as one of 14 members of the 20th astronaut class in 2009.   What makes her achievement as an astronaut so inspiring is the fact that the seed was planted by her brother at the age of 9. 


In a video for NASA, Epps recalled the moment, “It was about 1980, I was nine years old. My brother came home and he looked at my grades and my twin sisters’ grades and he said, ‘You know, you guys can probably become aerospace engineers or even astronauts.” 

Epps will launch her journey in 2018 and will stay the duration of two Expeditions – 56 and 57. This will make her the fourth African American woman to travel into space. The women before her were: Mae Jemision, Stephanie Wilson and Joan Higginbotham. 

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