Jeanette Epps will become the first African-American space station crew member when she launches on her first spaceflight in May 2018, NASA said. The New York native spent seven years as a CIA technical intelligence officer before being selected as a member of the 2009 astronaut class, the US space agency said in a statement on Wednesday. Her training included scientific and technical briefings, intensive instruction in International Space Station systems and spacewalk training.
NASA has also assigned veteran astronaut Andrew Feustel to missions aboard the International Space Station in 2018. Feustel will launch in March 2018 for his first long-duration mission, serving as a flight engineer on Expedition 55, and later as commander of Expedition 56. Epps will join Feustel as a flight engineer on Expedition 56, and remain on board for Expedition 57. “Each space station crew brings something different to the table, and Drew and Jeanette both have a lot to offer,” said Chris Cassidy, chief of the Astronaut Office at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. Epps holds a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering from the University of Maryland.
“The space station will benefit from having them on board,” Cassidy said. A native of Lake Orion, Michigan, Feustel was selected as part of the 2000 astronaut class and, in 2009, flew on the space shuttle Atlantis for the final servicing mission of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. He made his first trip to the space station in 2011 as a member of the STS-134 crew on space shuttle Endeavour’s final mission.
In 1995, he completed his doctorate in geological sciences, with a specialization in seismology, from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. More than 200 astronauts have visited the space station so far. ALSO READ: NASA to launch $188 million mission for exploring black holes in 2020