“It felt like a huge amount of responsibility. There have been three African Americans who have visited ISS, but they haven’t done the long-duration mission that I am undertaking,” she told
in 2017 before she was pulled from the mission. “As a steward, I want to do well with this honor. I want to make sure that young people know that this didn’t happen overnight.”
Boeing had conducted an uncrewed flight test of Starliner in December 2019, but after the capsule failed to arrive at the ISS due to a series of software issues, the company and NASA decided to repeat the orbital flight test, currently slated to happen later this year.
Upon the success of that mission, Epps, Williams and Cassada will embark on a six-month expedition on the ISS, which is expected to occur sometime in 2021.
This will mark Epps’ first spaceflight. Before becoming a member of the 2009 astronaut class, Epps worked for the CIA.
Her crewmates, Williams and Cassada, were selected for the Starliner-1 mission in August 2018. This will be Williams’ third spaceflight and the first for Cassada.
NASA turned to Boeing, the world’s largest aerospace company, and Elon Musk’s SpaceX to build capsules and ferry astronauts to and from the space station following the retirement of the space shuttles flights in 2011.
SpaceX beat Boeing by conducting its first crewed flight test, known as Demo-2, last May.
The company sent
NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley onboard its Crew Dragon capsule to the ISS, marking the first time astronauts were launched from U.S. soil since the shuttle program retired.
After two months onboard the space station, Behnken and Hurley safely splashed down off the coast of Pensacola, Florida, in August and now SpaceX and NASA are scheduled to launch its first operational crewed flight no earlier than Oct. 23 from Kennedy Space Center pad 39A.
That flight will send NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker as well as Soichi Noguchi, of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, to stay on the ISS for a six-month science mission. Glover will likely now become the first Black astronaut to join the ISS crew.
Contributing: Marcia Dunn, Florida Today and The Associated Press
Follow Antonia Jaramillo and N’dea Yancey-Bragg on Twitter at @AntoniaJ_11 and @NdeaYanceyBragg
For more on the original article visit: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/08/26/nasa-astronaut-jeanette-epps-first-black-woman-international-space-station/5633538002/