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Jeannette Evans makes history as the first Black woman to work on the International Space Station

Jeannette Evans will embark on a six-month expedition aboard a spaceflight that is set to launch in 2021.

Jeanette Evans NASA

NASA astronaut Jeanette Evans has been chosen to live and work on a mission to the International Space Station, going down in history as the first Black woman to do so.

According to a Tuesday (Aug. 25) press release, Evans has been assigned to NASA’s Boeing Starliner-1 mission and will work alongside fellow astronauts Sunita Williams and Josh Cassada, who were both assigned to the 2018 mission. Together, they will embark on the six-month expedition slated to launch in 2021.

“I’m super excited to join Suni Williams and Josh Cassada on the first operational Boeing crewed mission to the International Space Station,” Epps said in a video posted on Twitter.

“I’ve flown in helicopters with Suni flying and I’ve flown in the backseat of a T-38 with Josh flying, and they are both wonderful people to work with, so I’m looking forward to the mission.”

Epps has long been preparing for this moment. She has earned her bachelor’s degree in physics, a master’s degree in science and a PhD in aerospace engineering. While pursuing her doctorate, she worked as a NASA Graduate Student Researchers Project fellow, writing articles on her research. She also has experience working in a research laboratory and as a technical intelligence officer for the CIA.

In 2018, she was gearing up for her first long term duration mission, but six months before the flight, she learned she was being replaced by astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor.

The 2021 spaceflight will be a first time experience for Epps and Cassada but the third time for Williams.

Following the news, Epps’ coworkers congratulated her on her latest achievement.

“Welcome to the team, Jeanette!” Cassada said in a statement. “We’ll see you soon.”

“A huge congratulations to Dr. Jeanette Epps for joining the Starliner team,” Williams said. “Looking forward to working with you and flying with you, Jeanette.”

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