Black Excellence is shining bright across various spheres and another cap has been added.
NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins on the morning of April 27 rewrote the history books to become the first black woman to be part of International Space Station crew and yes, she’s just getting started – Next up the moon!
Watkins, a part of SpaceX’s Crew-4 mission, launched to the station with NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, the mission’s commander, and Robert Hines as and European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti.
“I think it’s important to recognise this as a milestone for our agency and for our country, as well, to know that we are building on the foundation that was laid by the black woman astronauts who’ve come before me,” Watkins had said earlier this year.
The trailblazer, one of NASA’s Artemis astronauts might also belt off another historic feat flying to the moon. This would be the first time since the Apollo mission in 1972.
“I think it’s important to recognize this as a milestone for our agency and for our country, as well, to know that we are building on the foundation that was laid by the Black woman astronauts who’ve come before me,” Watkins told NPR’s Morning Edition earlier this year about flying with Crew-4. “I’m definitely honored to be a small part of that legacy, but ultimately be an equal member of the crew.”
As a geologist, Watkins has shared her excitement at the possibility of one day landing on the moon.
“We’ve looked at lots of images and even looked at samples that the Apollo astronauts brought back,” she told NPR. “But to be able to be a real field geologist on the surface of another planet would just be unreal.”
NASA aims to land the first woman and the first person of color on the moon.
Watkins attended Fairview High School in Boulder, Colorado, and went on to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Geological and Environmental Sciences from Stanford University, as well as a Doctorate in Geology from the University of California, Los Angeles.
She has received numerous honors, including a Caltech Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences Chair’s Postdoctoral Fellowship, a California Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate Postdoctoral Fellowship, the UCLA Department of Earth and Space Sciences Harold and Mayla Sullwold Scholarship for Academic Excellence and Outstanding Original Research, a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship in Geosciences, and the Geological Society of America’s Graduate Research Fellowship in Geosciences.