First Black woman to join ISS crew in 2021

NASA has announced that astronaut Jeanette Epps has been assigned to NASA’s Boeing Starliner-1 mission, scheduled for 2021.

African-American astronauts have visited the space station, but Epps will be the first to live there. Space station crews typically stay for five to six months.

The mission will be the first operational crewed flight of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft to the International Space Station. Epps will join NASA astronauts Sunita Williams and Josh Cassada for a six-month expedition on the orbiting space laboratory. The flight will follow NASA certification after a successful uncrewed Orbital Flight Test-2 and Crew Flight Test with astronauts.

Epps was supposed to go to the ISS in early 2018 but was pulled off the mission.

Epps earned a bachelor’s degree in physics in 1992 from LeMoyne College in her hometown of Syracuse, New York. She completed a master’s degree in science in 1994 and a doctorate in aerospace engineering in 2000, both from the University of Maryland, College Park, according to a release from NASA.

While earning her doctorate, Epps was a NASA Graduate Student Researchers Project fellow, authoring several journal and conference articles on her research. After completing graduate school, she worked in a research laboratory for more than two years, co-authoring several patents, before the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) recruited her. She spent seven years as a CIA technical intelligence officer before her selection as a member of the 2009 astronaut class.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.