NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins to be 1st Black woman on International Space Station crew

Bill Ingalls/NASA

(CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.) -- NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins will take to the skies in 2022 on a historic debut spaceflight to the International Space Station.

Watkins will become the first Black woman to embark on a long-duration mission at the space station, where she will live and conduct research in the microgravity laboratory as it orbits the Earth.

NASA announced that Watkins will serve as a mission specialist for the SpaceX Crew-4 mission, the fourth rotation of astronauts on the Crew Dragon spacecraft to the ISS. This will be her first journey to space since becoming an astronaut in 2017.

She will join NASA astronauts Robert Hines and Kjell Lindgren, as well as European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti. The group is scheduled for liftoff in April 2022 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Watkins was born in Maryland and now calls Colorado home. Previously, she worked as a geologist with a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University and a doctorate from the University of California, Los Angeles.

She joined NASA as an intern and has worked at various research centers in California. At the time of her astronaut selection, Watkins worked as a post-doctoral fellow on the science team for the Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity.

When Watkins launches into space next spring, it will be the realization of a dream she’s held since she was in elementary school.

"A dream feels like a big faraway goal that’s going to be difficult to achieve or something you might achieve much later in life," Watkins said in a video released by NASA last year. "But in reality, what a dream realized is just one putting one foot in front of the other on a daily basis. If you put enough of those footprints together, eventually they become a path towards your dreams."

Monday, November 22, 2021 at 8:01PM by Joyce Philippe, ABC News Permalink