NASA Astronaut Jessica Watkins has made history!
On Wednesday (April 27), SpaceX launched four astronauts, including Dr. Watkins, who is now the first Black woman making a long-term spaceflight, to the International Space Station for NASA.
Dr. Watkins, a UCLA-trained geologist, will be conducting research during the six-month stint alongside fellow NASA Astronauts Robert Hines and Kjell Lindgren, and Samantha Cristoforetti of the European Space Agency. The launch also marked the first NASA crew composed equally of men and women.
“This is one of the most diversified, I think, crews that we’ve had in a really, really long time,” NASA’s space operations mission chief, Kathy Lueders, said ahead of Wednesday's launch.
Watkins joined NASA as an intern and has previously shared her excitement about the trip and the shoulders she stands on.
"We have reached this milestone, this point in time, and the reason we're able to arrive at this time is because of the legacy of those who have come before to allow for this moment," the 33-year-old Maryland native said. "Also, recognizing this is a step in the direction of a very exciting future. So to be a part of that is certainly an honor."
Watkins joins the likes of Dr. Mae Jemison, who made history in 1992 as the first Black woman to go to space; Stephanie Wilson, who set the record for the most time in space by a Black woman; and Sian Proctor, the first Black woman to pilot a spacecraft.