Apr 28, 2022 - Science

Jessica Watkins makes history as first Black woman on ISS crew

NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins departs with Crew-4 to prepare for liftoff t from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, Wednesday, April 27.

NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins as Crew-4 prepares for launch to the International Space Station aboard a SpaceX rocket from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Wednesday. Photo: Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

A SpaceX capsule carrying four astronauts successfully docked with the International Space Station on Wednesday for a five-month mission.

Why it matters: This is the first NASA crew equally made up of men and women — among them is Jessica Watkins, the first Black woman to take part in a long-term spaceflight, AP reports. She's also the first Black woman to be on an ISS crew, per Space.com and Smithsonian Magazine.

What they're saying: "It really is just a tribute to the legacy of the Black women astronauts that have come before me, as well as to the exciting future ahead," Watkins told NPR ahead of the SpaceX Crew-4 mission's departure from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, aboard the Crew Dragon capsule.

The big picture: The 33-year-old mission specialist is the first Black woman to join an ISS crew "for scientific research, station maintenance, training and more over a six-month period," USA Today reports.

  • Sian Proctor last year became the "fourth Black woman to fly to space and the first to pilot a spacecraft on a commercial mission with SpaceX," during their three days in orbit, NPR notes.
  • NASA astronaut Victor Glover was the "first Black astronaut to join a station crew," when he joined the SpaceX Crew-2 mission that launched in November 2020, per USA Today.
  • Guion "Guy" Bluford was the first Black astronaut to travel to space, in 1983.

Go deeper, via AP: "Black in Space" looks at final frontier of civil rights

Go deeper