Meet Sian Proctor, The First Black Woman To Pilot A Spacecraft
Credit: NASA

Is there anything Black women can’t do? Spoiler alert: the answer is no.

As the first Black woman to pilot a safecraft, Dr. Sian Proctor is taking #BlackGirlMagic to new heights, following her recent Inspiration4 mission return from space. Proctor was announced as an Inspiration4 crew member back in March after she was selected as the top entrant of an independently judged online business competition that attracted approximately 200 entries.

Now, she’s inspiring Black women and girls everywhere to take up space, in this world and in space. “When I was kid, there weren’t a lot of role models in the space industry,” Proctor tells ESSENCE.

She continues: “When you look at the history of Black women in space, there’s only been three African American females who have gone to space in the United States. Out of those three, only one has gone multiple times. I feel like we have been ignored to some extent in the space sector. I think a big part of that is because representation matters. We need to see more women of color in space, doing science, technology and mathematics, but in a very visible way. I am hoping with the Inspiration4 mission, I will be able to inspire women of color around the world to think of pursuing a career in space exploration.”

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Along with being an astronaut, Proctor is also a geology professor at the Maricopa Community College in Arizona and has a passion for Afrofuturism space art. Proctor credits her father for igniting her passion for science and space exploration. “My whole life I’ve been an explorer, thanks to my parents, and in particular my dad,” she shares. “What that has done for me has made me a modern day renaissance woman. I dabble in a lot of things, but my core is geo-science.”

The SpaceX capsule on Sunday successfully concluded the historic orbital mission with no professional astronauts on board. Fifty-one-year-old Proctor was the mission pilot alongside mission commander Jared Isaacman, a billionaire who financed the trip for the crew.

Following the mission, Proctor described it as the “best ride” of her life as she touched down following a three-day trip to Earth’s orbit on board a SpaceX capsule.

“Nothing but #gratitude!! Thank you to everyone who helped make our mission a success and supported us through this historic journey,” she said.

Proctor also used this flight as a way to provide for others. Working with St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital, she hopes to raise $200 million for pediatric cancer research. Thus far, she’s already gained a $100 million donation from billionaire Jared Isaacman. 

Watch the full interview above.