Astronaut expected to be the 1st African-American Space Station crewmember won’t fly in 2018 after allOn January 19, 2018 by Maybell
Jeanette Epps, who was set to become the first-ever African-American astronaut to be a crewmember on the International Space Station, will not fly to space in 2018 as scheduled, NASA announced late Thursday.
It’s not clear why Epps was reassigned from her flight. The decision pulls her from her slated mission, which was expected to launch in June.
“A number of factors are considered when making flight assignments; these decisions are personnel matters for which NASA doesn’t provide information,” NASA spokesperson Brandi Dean said via email.
NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor “… is taking the place of astronaut Jeanette Epps, who will return to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston to assume duties in the Astronaut Office and be considered for assignment to future missions,” NASA said in a statement.
That mission would have been Epps’s first flight to space.
NASA announced Epps’s flight assignment in 2017, and it immediately went viral. Dozens of media organizations (including Mashable) wrote about Epps and her groundbreaking scheduled flight to the Space Station.
While six other African-American astronauts have spent time on the Space Station, Epps was expected to become the first to live and work aboard the orbiting laboratory as a full crewmember on a months-long mission.
Epps made it to NASA as one of 14 astronaut candidates in the space agency’s 2009 class. NASA received 3,500 astronaut applications that year.
She arrived at this assignment after having a somewhat non-traditional career for an astronaut.
She started off as a NASA fellow at the University of Maryland before moving on to work at a lab at Ford Motor Company, NASA said. Epps then spent more than seven years working as a technical intelligence officer for the Central Intelligence Agency.
“I did a lot of scientific stuff, but I also did a lot of operational stuff,” Epps said in a video interview released by NASA in 2015. “We worked in non-proliferation issues, which was great. It’s reverse engineering at its best.”
Epps was inspired to become an astronaut from an early age, when she saw the first group of American women who were chosen to fly to space.
“It was about 1980, I was nine years old. My brother came home and he looked at my grades and my twin sisters’ grades and he said, ‘You know, you guys can probably become aerospace engineers or even astronauts,'” Epps said in the video.
“And this was at the time that Sally Ride [the first American woman to fly in space] and a group of women were selected to become astronauts — the first time in history. So, he made that comment and I said, ‘Wow, that would be so cool.'”