Dr. Sian Proctor is taking Black history to new heights, literally. The New York Times reports that Dr. Sian Proctor has become the first Black woman to pilot a spacecraft. Moreover, she is the fourth Black woman to ever fly into space and one of four people to participate in SpaceX's first-ever all-civilian spaceflight.
“I am going to be the first Black female pilot of a spacecraft ever,” Proctor said she told WETM-TV in New York.
“And to me, that just blows me away and I wanna encourage the next generation to dream that this is possible and at Jedi Space, that’s what that’s about."
As she explained to The New York Times, Proctor is a Guam native who has been heavily influenced by NASA for nearly her entire life. The self-described "tomboy" had an early interest in planes while watching her father work as an engineer for NASA. At first, she hoped to become a fighter pilot, but life took her in a slightly different direction. She has earned a master's degree in geology and a Ph.D. in science education. Passing along her knowledge to the next generation, Proctor taught at South Mountain Community College in Phoenix for more than 20 years and she is also the Vice President of Education at Star Harbor Space Academy.
“It’s a dream come true. Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to be a fighter pilot; I saw that as the ticket to becoming an astronaut. I got to check that off the bucket list,” she told Space.com.
Proctor is also using this flight as a way to provide for others. Working with St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital, she hopes to raise $200 million for pediatric cancer research. Thus far, she's already gained a $100 million donation from billionaire Jared Isaacman. Much like Proctor, Issacman is also participating in this all-civilian spaceflight. Proctor, Issacman, Chris Sembroski and Hayley Arceneaux took off on Wednesday and are expected to return this weekend.