There’s a lot of room in space, but not many figures to hide up there. Joan E. Higginbotham, Mae C. Jemison and Stephanie D. Wilson are the only black women to have ever been in space.
But there’s about to be one more.
Jeanette J. Epps will join the crew of the International Space Station in May 2018 as part of Expedition 56. She will remain onboard as flight engineer for Expedition 57, responsible performing scientific experiments, conducting station maintenance and overseeing special operations (such receiving cargo using the station’s robotic arms).
Epps has a CIA background as well as a doctorate in aerospace engineering from the University of Maryland. She became an astronaut in 2009; however, this will be her first spaceflight.
She will be the 15th black astronaut in space, the fourth black woman, and the first black astronaut — male or female — to work aboard the International Space Station.
As part of the campaign for Hidden Figures, a movie about the black women behind NASA’s early space successes, Epps filmed a video encouraging young women to face the rigors of studying science and engineering head-on.
Here’s hoping the advice resonates, and that it won't be long before you read about the 47th black woman to go to space here on Blavity.