All space missions are important. However, SpaceX’s Crew-4 mission, which moored to the International Space Station (ISS) on April 28, 2022, was particularly historical. The approximately The 16-hour flight was SpaceX’s fastest Dragon astronaut trip to the space lab to date. Most importantly, the crew of four included Jessica Watkins – the first African American woman assigned to the ISS on a long-duration mission.
“I think it’s important to recognize this as a Milestone for our agency and for our country as well, to know that we are building on the foundation laid by the black astronauts who came before me,” Watkins said. The morning edition of NPR. “I’m truly honored to be a small part of this. legacybut at the end of the day be an equal member of the crew.
Watkins and his two fellow NASA astronauts – Kjell Lindgren and Bob Hines – and Samantha Cristoforetti of the European Space Agency (ESA) will spend six months aboard the ISS. They go conduct scientific research, station maintenance and training.
Watkins is the fifth black woman to go into space. The first was NASA astronaut Mae Jemison, who was part of the crew of the space shuttle Endeavor which orbited Earth for eight days, from September 12, 1992 to September 20, 1992. The second, Stephanie Wilson, traveled to the ISS for three missions between 2006 and 2010. Until Watkins’ last assignment, Wilson held the record (42 days in total) for the most days spent on the ISS by an Afro astronaut -American.
Joan Higginbotham, the third black female astronaut in space, spent 13 days on the ISS in December 2006. The fourth, Dr Sian Proctor, was one of four civilians selected for SpaceX’s private Inspiration4 mission in 2021. The spacecraft circled the Earth for three days at a altitude approximately 367 miles (590 kilometers).
ISS mission may just be the start of Watkins’ historic space expeditions. The 33-year-old geologist is part of NASA’s Artemis program to land humans on the Moon again. Watkins has an excellent chance of being selected, given the mission’s goals of landing the first woman and person of color on the Moon. Stéphanie Wilson is also in restraint for the coveted place. We hope that the two pioneers will be selected for the epic mission.
Resources: NASA.gov, Space.com, Wikipedia.org, NPR.org