Astronaut Jeanette Epps is making history as the first Black woman appointed to join NASA’s International Space Station crew, People reports.
Epps holds a bachelor’s degree in physics, a master’s degree in science and a doctorate in aerospace engineering, joining the NASA team as a Graduate Student Researchers Project fellow. She eventually went on to work for the CIA as a technical intelligence officer before returning to the aeronautics and space company as a member of the 2009 class of astronauts.
Now, Epps will join Sunita Williams and Josh Cassada as a member of the International Space Station crew, serving on NASA’s Boeing Starliner-1 mission, a six-month expedition aboard the floating space laboratory.
“I’m super excited to join Suni Williams, and Josh Cassada on the first operational Boeing crewed mission to the International Space Station,” Epps said in a video posted to Twitter. “I’ve flown in helicopters with Suni flying, and I’ve flown in the backseat of a T-38 with Josh flying, and they are both wonderful people to work with, so I’m looking forward to the mission,”
Both Williams and Cassada shared their public congratulations to Epps and said they’re looking forward to bringing her onboard for the Starliner-1 mission, the two having been appointed since August 2018.
According to NASA, for the last 20 years, the International Space Station “has served as a critical testbed for [understanding and overcoming] the challenges of long-duration spaceflight.” This will be Epps’ first spaceflight, and it is scheduled to launch in 2021.