Space is considered the final frontier of exploration. Astronauts blast into space, not knowing what they will find. Some say that you should reach for the stars and let nothing get in your way when it comes to your dreams. Well, one NASA astronaut is making history with her trip into space.

NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins will become the first Black woman on the International Space Station crew. NASA selected Watkins as an astronaut candidate in 2017, and she’s been preparing for her first space mission since then. The other three crew members on the mission include NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren and Robert Hines and the European Space Agency’s Samantha Cristoforetti.

According to NASA, this trip is the fourth crew rotation flight of the Crew Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station. The team will blast NASA’s Kennedy Space Center into space in Merritt Island, Florida, on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The astronauts will spend six months in the ISS microgravity laboratory conducting scientific research.

As for her credentials for becoming an astronaut, Watkins has plenty. She attended Stanford University in California, earning her bachelor’s degree in geological and environmental sciences. She went on to earn a doctorate in geology from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Watkins has also been involved in another space project. She was a member of the science team for the Mars Science laboratory rover, Curiosity while working as a postdoctoral fellow at the Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

Several of her NASA colleagues congratulated her for her role and upcoming space trip. Watkins may be the first Black woman on the International Space Station crew, but countless people of color paved the way for the past 50 years for Watkins to achieve her interstellar dreams.

Dr. Bernard Harris Jr. spent years enlisting minority and female astronauts. Later on, he would become the first Black person to walk in space in 1995. Dr. Mae Jemison became the first Black woman in deep space while aboard the space shuttle Endeavor in 1992. In 2013, Victor Glover Jr., a legislative fellow in the U.S. Senate, was selected as an astronaut and became the first Black person to hold a long-duration crew assignment on the ISS, serving as a crew member from November 2020 to May 2021.

Watkins’ trip to space may be another first in the history books, but the public should regard it more than that. There may be some Black girls who want to become astronauts but don’t think they can because of the color of their skin. However, when they see Jessica Watkins and hear of her accomplishments, she may restore faith in their dreams.

When millions of girls see Watkins blast into space, they’ll realize that their goals aren’t limited to what they can do on Earth. Jessica Watkins may be the first Black woman on the space station crew, but she won’t be the last. NASA says she’s set to launch into space in April 2022.

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