WASHINGTON, D.C. — NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins is set to become the first Black woman to join the International Space Station crew on a long-duration mission.
The U.S. space agency announced this week that the 33-year-old will serve as a mission specialist on the upcoming SpaceX Crew-4 mission, the fourth crew rotation flight of the Crew Dragon spacecraft to the space station.
It will be Watkins’ first trip to space following her selection as an astronaut in 2017.
Before becoming an astronaut, Watkins began her career at NASA as an intern and has worked at the agency’s Ames Research Center in California and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.
She has earned a bachelor’s degree in geological and environmental sciences from Stanford University and a doctorate in geology from the University of California, Los Angeles.
On the space station, Watkins will be joined by NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren and Robert Hines, as well as European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti.
Crew-4 is scheduled to launch in April of 2022 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for a six-month science mission aboard the microgravity laboratory.