SPACEX brought four astronauts to the space station for NASA on Wednesday – and thus entered a crew member in the history books.
It’s the first Nasa crew to be evenly split between men and women, including the first black woman to undertake a long-term space flight, Jessica Watkins.
The 33-year-old geologist from Colorado joined the Astronaut Corps in 2017 and this is her first trip into space.
She will spend six months on the International Space Station as part of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission.
Before launch, the space pioneer shared some golden advice for future astronauts and space scientists.
“Find mentors who can encourage and support you along the way,” she said UCLA Newsroom earlier this month.
“Don’t be afraid to take risks, they will surely pay off.”
Watkins graduated from UCLA in 2015. She studied how rocks and soils on Earth can teach us about the geology of other planets.
Becoming an astronaut takes dedication and drive, which begins with your training.
Watkins said she would encourage students to delve deep into the subjects and pursuits that excite them most.
“Whatever students are interested in or passionate about — whatever gets you out of bed in the morning — participate in it, study it, pursue it relentlessly,” she said.
“If you want to be an astronaut, keep studying STEM, but find what you’re best at.”
Watkins and her crew members lifted off from Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule.
As a mission specialist, Watkins monitored the spacecraft during the flight’s launch.
She will serve as flight engineer once the team arrives at the space station on Wednesday evening.
Jessica celebrated her addition to the crew as a milestone for diversity in the space industry.
She is the fifth black woman to fly into space and will be the first to serve aboard the International Space Station.
Almost 90 percent of the people who have been in space are white males.
“We’ve reached this milestone, this moment in time, and the reason we’re able to get here at this point is because of the legacy of those who came before to make this moment possible,” Watkins said.
“Recognizing this is also a step towards a very exciting future. So to be a part of that is certainly an honour.”
SpaceX has now launched five crews for NASA and two private voyages in just under two years.
Elon Musk’s company has had a particularly busy few weeks, having just whisked three businessmen to and from the space station as NASA’s first private guests.
A week after the arrival of the new crew, the three Americans and Germans who will replace them will return to Earth in their own SpaceX capsule. Three Russians also live on the space station.
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