Jeanette Epps will be the first African American astronaut to join the International Space Station (ISS) according to an announcement made by NASA.
Epps will join the space station in May 2018 along with veteran astronaut Andrew Feustel and serve as the flight engineer for Expedition 56. She will stay on board for Expedition 57.
A native of Syracuse, NY, Epps has a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering and was a NASA graduate student researcher project fellow. In addition to that, Epps was recruited by the CIA and spent seven years as a technical intelligence officer before becoming an astronaut in 2009.
While NASA has sent 14 Black astronauts into space over the decades, none have ever stayed aboard the ISS as a crew member. Epps will be the first African American and the 13th woman to call the ISS home since the space station was founded in 1998.
NASA’s announcement came days before the widespread release of the movie “Hidden Figures,” which tells the story of three Black women who played pivotal roles in NASA’s successful attempt to put astronaut John Glenn into orbit in 1962.