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Former CIA Officer and the First African-American Female Astronaut to Board the International Space Station

Jan 11, 2017 08:42 AM EST
NASA Spacewalks
An African-American female astronaut will board the International Space Station (ISS) in 2018. Jeannete Epps will be the first black female astronaut to reach the space station.
(Photo : NASA via Getty Images)

NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson may be the oldest female to reach the International Space Station (ISS) but another woman is about to make history. The agency already announced the Expedition 55 crew and one of them is a black African-American woman.

Jeannete Epps will join Andrew Feustel in a mission to the ISS in 2018. Epps will be the first woman of color to perform a duty aboard the space station, and will also be the 13th woman to board the ISS, according to a report. She will be the flight engineer for Expedition 55 and will also remain for Expedition 56.

"Each space station crew brings something different to the table, and Drew and Jeanette both have a lot to offer," Chris Cassidy, chief of the Astronaut Office at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston said in a press release. "The space station will benefit from having them on board."

Epps has a bachelor's degree in physics from the LeMoyne College in Syracuse, New York, and completed a master's degree in science in 1994 and a doctorate degree in 2000. Before her ISS stint, she is a NASA Graduate Student Researchers Project fellow who helped author various articles for her paper.

She maybe a woman and African-American but Epps has a ton of achievements under her belt. Before being recruited by the Central Intelligence Agency, she worked in a research laboratory for two years authoring patents. She then moved to CIA as a technical intelligence officer before she was selected as a member of astronaut class in 2009.

"Her training included scientific and technical briefings, intensive instruction in International Space Station systems, spacewalk training, robotics, T-38 flight training and wilderness survival training," a NASA said in the Official Astronaut Biography.

As of now, there were 200 astronauts who already visited the ISS and performed various experiments aboard the space station. NASA considers the work aboard the ISS vital in space explorations including the Journey to Mars.

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