Black women are continuing to break barriers in the realm of STEM. NASA has announced that Vanessa Wyche has been appointed as the deputy director of their Johnson Space Center; making her the first African-American woman to take on the role.
The 54-year-old started her NASA journey as a project engineer for their space life sciences department three decades ago. She then went on to hold positions that included the director of Human Exploration Development Support, the assistant director of the Johnson Center, and most recently the director of the center’s Exploration Integration and Science Directorate. In this new role, Wyche will be responsible for overseeing the direction of the Houston-based center which is the epicenter of human space flight research. The center, which is one of NASA’s largest facilities, has a staff made up of nearly 10,000 civil service and contractor workers.
Wyche—a graduate of Clemson University—is excited about taking on the position. “I am incredibly humbled to take on this role at JSC, and also excited to assist Mark with leading the home of human spaceflight,” she said in a statement, according to the news outlet. “I look forward to working with the talented employees at JSC as we work toward our mission of taking humans farther into the solar system.”
The team at NASA believes that the contributions she makes in this role will push human space exploration forward. “She is respected at NASA, has built agency-wide relationships throughout her nearly three-decade career and will serve JSC well as we continue to lead human space exploration in Houston,” said center director Mark Geyer.
Wyche’s appointment comes a week after NASA pioneers Katherine Johnson, Dr. Christine Darden and the late Mary Jackson and Dorothy Vaughan were nominated for Congressional Gold Medals.