NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins will become the first black woman to join the crew of the International Space Station, according to CNN.
It is scheduled to launch into space in April 2022 on the SpaceX-Crow 4 mission, according to NASA.
Watkins was named an astronaut candidate in 2017, and has been preparing for her first space mission since then.
The three other crew members on the mission include NASA astronauts Jill Lindgren and Robert Haynes, as well as Samantha Cristoforetti of the European Space Agency.
The space agency said this is the fourth periodic flight of the crew of the Crew Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station.
The team will blast off into space from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, Florida, on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. NASA said that astronauts will spend six months in the Microgravity Laboratory at the International Space Station to conduct scientific research.
Watkins attended Stanford University in California with a bachelor’s degree in geological and environmental sciences, and then a doctorate in geology from the University of California, Los Angeles.
The astronaut has a long history with NASA, having started her career there as an intern, and previously held positions at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California, and at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.
Watkins was a member of the science team at Curiosity’s Mars Science Laboratory while working as a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Geological and Planetary Sciences at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.
“Geology has given me a way to study the surface of another planet, especially looking at Mars, which has been my passion,” Watkins said in the NASA video.
A number of NASA colleagues congratulated Watkins on her new role and her upcoming trip to space.
“More turtles in space!” said NASA astronaut Johnny Kim. Congratulations to my friend and teammate, Jessica Watkins.”
Over the past half century, countless people of color have paved the way for Watkins to realize her extraterrestrial dreams.
Dr. Bernard Harris Jr. spent decades recruiting minorities and female astronauts and later became the first black person to walk in space in 1995.
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