Nationwide — Jessica Watkins, a 33-year old female astronaut from Lafayette, Colorado, will make history in April 2022 when she becomes the first Black woman to live and work on the International Space Station.
Watkins will serve as a mission specialist on the ISS as part of the SpaceX Crew-4, which is the fourth batch of astronauts on a flight of a Crew Dragon spacecraft. She is one of the 4 members of the crew who will live on the ISS for 6 months.
Since 2017, Watkins has been an astronaut in NASA where she worked in its research centers, particularly on the Mars rover Curiosity. Her mission next year will be her first mission in space.
As a child, Watkins had always been inspired by iconic astronauts like Mae Jemison, the first Black woman in space, and Sally Ride, the first American woman in space. Now, she hopes to be the one to inspire more children of color to pursue space travel.
“I do hope that all young girls, especially young girls of color that are interested in STEM and interested in exploring space, feel empowered to do so,” Watkins said, according to NPR. “I just hope young girls across the country feel that way now.”
After the ISS, Watkins, who had a background in geology and the surface of Mars, said she is also interested in traveling to Mars soon.