Meet Jessica Watkins, the Only Black Woman to Take Space in NASA’s New Astronaut Class

Written by Storm Tyler

If you needed additional proof that Black women are other-worldly, here’s evidence: Jessica Watkins has been selected to join the 2017 Astronaut Candidate Class.

According to her NASA Astronaut Candidate Biography, she was a previous Postdoctoral fellow in the Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences at the California Institute of Technology; a collaborator on the Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity; and investigated the geologic history of Mars. Jessica was selected amongst 18,300 applicants from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories Puerto Rico, Guam and America Samoa, stated NASA’ Instagram post.

Caltech (@Caltech) 07-Jun-2017 19:10
We are so proud of Jessica, and are looking forward to seeing what she accomplishes in the future. #NewAstronauts

Two years of training for the #NewAstronaut class will commence this August. While in Houston, a variety of topics—International Space Station systems, robotics training, Russian, spacewalks and preparation for departure for deep space missions in the Orion spacecraft—will be explored.

Image via: Jessica Watkins’ Personal Website

Prior to being celebrated for this achievement, Jessica has received extensive awards for her research and excellence—#BlackGirlMagic—including: Geological Society of America Diversity in the Geosciences Minority Research Grant Award in 2011, UCLA Department of Earth and Space Sciences Harold and Mayla Sullwold Scholarship for Academic Excellence and Outstanding Original Research in 2012 and NASA Group Achievement Award, Mars Science Laboratory Prime Mission Science and Operations Team in 2015.

There have previously been 16 Black astronauts and of those, only five were women. While NASA seeks to expand human presence in space, they’re also committed to ensuring their workforce is reflective of our multicultural society: “The talented women and men selected for the new astronaut class represent the diversity of America and the career paths that can lead to a place in America’s astronaut corps.”

 Image via:

Inspired by the work of Dorothy Vaughan, Katherine Johnson and Mary Jackson (stars of the blockbuster film Hidden Figures) Jessica stated, “I watched the movie knowing there was a possibility I could be doing the same thing. It’s pretty amazing to know I couldn’t have gotten here without standing on the shoulders of giants.”

With the previous work of minority women at NASA hidden, we hope Jessica’s future accomplishments are for all to witness and be inspired by.

Walker's Legacy

Walker’s Legacy is a digital platform for the professional and entrepreneurial multicultural woman and exists to inspire, equip, and engage through thought-provoking content, educational programming, and a global community.

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