- NASA mentioned Tuesday that astronaut Jeanette Epps will launch aboard Boeing’s new CST-100 Starliner spaceship in 2021.
- Epps has not but flown to space, however the Starliner-1 mission might make her the first Black particular person to reside and work aboard the International Space Station for months at a time.
- NASA beforehand selected Epps for a 2018 flight, however the agency abruptly removed her from that mission just months forward of its launch.
- Epps is certainly one of 16 active feminine astronauts who might in the future land on the moon with NASA’s Artemis program.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
NASA astronaut Jeanette Epps might lastly be touring to space.
The agency said Tuesday that it has assigned the 49-year-old rookie astronaut to Boeing’s Starliner-1 mission, slated to launch someday in 2021.
The mission is definitely the second that NASA picked Epps to fly. But she by no means made the first one, a Russian Soyuz flight that lifted off in June 2018, as a result of the agency abruptly bumped her from the crew about 5 months forward of launch.
“I don’t know where the decision came from and how it was made, in detail, or at what level,” Epps said throughout a conference in 2018 convention, however noted it was not medically associated. “There were Russians, several of them, who defended me in the sense that it’s not safe to really remove someone from a crew that has trained together for years.”
NASA instructed Business Insider in a assertion that a “number of factors are considered when making flight assignments,” including that “decisions are personnel matters for which NASA doesn’t provide information.”
Despite the disappointing flip of occasions, Epps saved her composure over the years.
“Sometimes things don’t go the way that you planned,” she instructed “Business Insider Today” in 2019. “But I’m still in the astronaut corps.”
With her recent project, Epps is as soon as once more poised to make historical past. The mission is to scheduled to be the first operational flight of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft, which ought to comply with an uncrewed launch (probably later this 12 months) and a crewed flight check in 2021.
Epps might grow to be the first Black particular person to reside and work aboard the ISS
NASA selected Epps, an aerospace engineer, to be an astronaut in 2009. Prior to that, she labored at Ford Motor Company as a analysis scientist earlier than shifting on to the Central Intelligence Agency, the place she was as a technical intelligence officer for greater than seven years, in response to her biography.
The Starliner-1 mission’s vacation spot is the International Space Station, a facility that orbits 250 miles above Earth, and which individuals have inhabited repeatedly for 20 years. During her deliberate six-month keep there, Epps would grow to be the first Black astronaut to reside and work aboard the $150 billion, soccer field-size laboratory for greater than a couple of weeks at a time.
Epps has not but flown to space. She will be a part of fellow spaceflight rookie Josh Cassada and veteran Sunita Williams. Williams, the Starliner-1 mission’s commander, has worked with Boeing and SpaceX over the previous six years on the design and performance of their new spaceships via NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
“I can’t wait for her to join our crew,” Williams mentioned in a video she tweeted on Tuesday.
Cassada tweeted a humorous video congratulating Epps, who grew up in Michigan, on her crew project.
“Just a couple of things I think we need to get sorted out. I know we both claim Michigan, I’m not going to arm-wrestle you for it — I’ve seen you in the gym. So maybe we can split it?” Cassada mentioned. “The only other thing we need to get sorted out is, on the Starliner, I call shotgun.”
Starliner launched and landed on its first uncrewed mission, referred to as Orbital Flight Test, in December 2019. However, the spacecraft skilled two “high visibility close calls” which may have resulted in the lack of the spacecraft, NASA mentioned earlier this 12 months.
Boeing is now fixing its software program, techniques, and procedures to rectify the issues, and — at a value of $410 million to the firm — plans to refly the mission later this 12 months. Assuming there are not any additional points, veteran astronaut Mike Fincke, retired astronaut Chris Ferguson, and rookie astronaut Nicole Mann will fly the first experimental crewed flight in 2021.
NASA seems unfazed by a small air leak aboard the ISS, which a three-person crew is at present serving to root out and restore. The agency plans to launch its subsequent business crewed mission, referred to as Crew-1 — SpaceX’s personal first operational flight of its business spaceship, referred to as Crew Dragon — towards the space station as soon as October 23. (SpaceX successfully flew and returned its first astronaut crew earlier this 12 months.)
The Starliner-1 mission might show particularly essential to Epps’ profession, in that she is certainly one of 16 energetic feminine astronauts in NASA’s corps who might return humans to the moon. Jim Bridenstine, the agency’s administrator, has repeatedly mentioned NASA’s Artemis program will fly the first lady and the subsequent man to the lunar floor in 2024.
“Business Insider Today” requested Epps about that chance throughout a 2019 interview.
“It’s mind-blowing to think about being the first [woman] to step on this object that you see in the night sky,” she mentioned. “I would hope that my mission would inspire the next generation of women, of all engineers and all scientists to kind of propel us forward, even beyond Mars.”
This story has been up to date with new info.