NASA astronaut Dr. Jessica Watkins is headed to the International Space Station next year. In doing so, she will make history as the first Black woman to live and work there on a long-term mission lasting six months, according to NCB News.
Dr. Watkins will join NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 Mission alongside three other astronauts, launching to the orbiting outpost in April 2022 aboard the Dragon capsule from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center.
A Stanford and UCLA trained geologist, Dr. Watkins will serve as a mission specialist. According to NASA, she was selected as an astronaut candidate in 2017. The upcoming SpaceX Crew-4 mission will be her first trip into space.
Several other Black astronauts have visited the space station throughout the 21 years it has existed, however, most of them were there on short visits under NASA’s space shuttle program. Victor Glover became the first Black astronaut to carry out a long-term mission at the International Space Station last year, after spending almost six months in orbit as part of Expedition 64. Now Dr. Watkins is slated to become the first Black woman to do so.
Dr. Watkins is also expected to become the first woman and the first person of color to grace the moon by 2025. She was selected as one of several NASA astronauts who will lead the Artemis program working to bring humans back to the lunar surface.
“A dream feels like a big, faraway goal that is going to be difficult to achieve, and something that you might achieve much later in life,” said Watkins in a NASA video. “But in reality, what a dream is — or a dream realized is — is just putting one foot in front of the other on a daily basis. And if you put enough of those footprints together, eventually they become a path towards your dreams.”