NASA astronaut, Jessica Watkins made history on Wednesday when she and a crew launched into space aboard the SpaceX Dragon from NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre in Florida.
This is the fourth crew rotation flight of the Crew Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station.
She travelled over 15 hours to the International Space Station with astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines, and Samantha Cristoforetti from the Kennedy Space Centre in Dallas, Texas.
The team will remain in space for the next six months.
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Watkins is the first Black woman to serve on the International Space Station for an extended period of time.
Watkins, the mission specialist, explained that the mission entails a variety of scientific procedures, including physical science, material science, and combustion. Earth and space science, cell tissue and plant growth, technology demonstrations, and human research, such as the effects of long-duration space flight.
“We’ve reached this milestone, this point in time, and the reason we’re able to arrive at this time is because of the legacy of those who have come before to allow for this moment,” Watkins said in an interview with NBC News.
“Also, recognizing this is a step in the direction of a very exciting future.” So to be a part of that is certainly an honor.”
Following in the footsteps of the legendary Mae Jemison, the first Black woman in space, Watkins believes that the future of space exploration lies in the hands of Black women and other women of color.
Her next stop could be the moon, as NASA’s Artemis program plans to send humans to the moon for the first time since the Apollo mission in 1972.