Though a grasp of black color astronauts have visited the orbiting outpost over the course of that 21-year history, nearly all had brief stays frequently lasting less than 2 weeks.

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NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins in former of a T-38 trainer aircraft close to NASA’s Johnson an are Center in 2017.NASA
When NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins launches come the International room Station next year, she debut spaceflight will certainly make history.

Watkins is collection to come to be the first Black woman to sign up with the room station crew, and live and also work in an are on a long-duration mission top top the orbiting outpost. The firm announced Tuesday the Watkins will fly to the an are station in April 2022, alongside NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren and Robert Hines and also astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti the the European room Agency.

They are slated to launch board SpaceX"s Crew Dragon capsule from NASA"s Kennedy space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The mission, known as Crew-4, is intended to last 6 months.

Jessica Watkins is aided into a spacesuit prior to underwater spacewalk training in 2017. David DeHoyos / NASA

Watkins, a geologist who earned an undergraduate level from Stanford University and a doctorate native the university of California, Los Angeles, will certainly serve as a mission specialist throughout the Crew-4 flight. She was chosen to become an astronaut candidate in 2017 and also the April mission will be her an initial trip come space, follow to the agency.

Though a handful of black color astronauts have actually visited the room station end the course of that is 21-year history, almost all had quick stays generally lasting less than 2 weeks during NASA"s room shuttle program.

Last year, Victor Glover became the very first Black astronaut to embark on a long-term mission in ~ the space station, and also Watkins is collection to come to be the an initial Black woman to perform the same.

In 2018, NASA astronaut Jeanette Epps was intended to become the first Black astronaut — guy or mrs — to launch on an extended mission in ~ the an are station, but she was suddenly replaced less than six months prior to the flight. NASA go not offer an explanation because that the switch and The Washington write-up reported at the moment that Epps" brother blamed racism in ~ the space agency because that the abrupt crew change.


Epps is still booked to take part in the an initial operational flight of Boeing"s Starliner room capsule come the an are station, despite it"s no yet known when that can occur. The Starliner capsule has been plagued by advance delays and an uncrewed test trip that was to take place in August was pushed ago because of issues with several of the spacecraft"s propulsion valves.

Last year, Watkins was chosen to join a select group that NASA astronauts top the agency"s multibillion-dollar Artemis program, which intends to return people to the moon. As part of the initiative, NASA is supposed to land the first woman and also the an initial person of color on the lunar surface ar by 2025.

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In a video released by NASA last December, Watkins spoke around eyeing a moon mission and also what it takes to achieve big things.

"A dream feels choose a big, faraway goal that is going come be an overwhelming to achieve, and something the you might achieve much later in life," she said. "But in reality, what a dream is — or a dream establish is — is simply putting one foot in former of the other on a day-to-day basis. And also if friend put sufficient of those footprints together, ultimately they become a path towards your dreams."