Jeanette Epps is a NASA astronaut that was on track to become the first African-American crew member on the International Space Station in 2018. But NASA announced Thursday that she will no longer be making the Expedition 56/67 mission that was scheduled for this summer.
Officials have not specified why Epps was pulled from the mission. Although other Black astronauts have visited the ISS, she would have been the first African-American long-term crew member.
“A number of factors are considered when making flight assignments; these decisions are personnel matters for which NASA doesn’t provide information,” Brandi Dean, a spokesperson for NASA, told The Verge.
Epps was one of 14 candidates — out of 3,500 applicants — that were selected by NASA in 2009 for this mission. It would have been her first time in space.
With a PhD in aerospace engineer, the New York native was a NASA Fellow during graduate school and later worked for Ford Motor Company where she received both a provisional patent and a U.S. patent for her research, according to NASA. She spent seven years at the CIA as a technical officer before joining the agency.
Despite the news, Epps is still eligible for potential missions in the future. For now, she will be working out of NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
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