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First African-American space station astronaut blasts off next year

Jeanette Epps, Ph. D., earned her doctorate in aerospace engineering from the University of Maryland, and worked for Ford Motor Company and the Central Intelligence Agency

Compton Herald | NASA Astronaut Jeanette J. Epps
NASA Astronaut Jeanette J. Epps. NASA photo

Jeanette Epps, 46, will be a flight engineer on Expedition 56, and will remain on board the ISS for Expedition 57; launch scheduled for May, 2018

By SETH AUGENSTEIN

The first African-American astronaut to join the crew of the International Space Station will blast off from Earth, and will spend months in orbit next year.

Jeanette Epps, Ph.D., 46, will launch in May 2018 to be a flight engineer on Expedition 56, and will remain on board the ISS for Expedition 57, NASA announced last week.

Epps earned her doctorate in aerospace engineering from the University of Maryland in 2000. She worked in the Ford Motor Company research laboratory, and filed two patents in two years. For seven years, she worked as a technical intelligence officer for the Central Intelligence Agency.

She was selected as one of 14 members of the 20th NASA astronaut class in 2009. Her training includes scientific and technical briefings, intensive instruction in International Space Station systems, spacewalk training, robotics, T-38 flight training and wilderness survival training.

“In order to succeed you have to do well and perform well. Don’t do less and accept less,” Epps said, via her Twitter account. “Put in the time and complete the task. You want to be a contributing member to every group that you are a part of.”

Epps is not the first Black female astronaut, however. Mae C. Jemison was the first Black woman to reach space when she spent eight days orbiting the Earth aboard the space shuttle Endeavor as part of a seven-member crew in September 1992.

Seth Augenstein is a NASA senior science writer.

<p>Compton Herald is a digital news publication providing clear, fair and current news, information and commentary about Compton and the Los Angeles metropolitan area of California, and the world.</p>

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