Nicole Aunapu Mann set to be first Native American woman to travel to ISS

NASA’s astronaut Nicole Aunapu Mann is set to become the first Native American woman to travel to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft this year.  

The Falcon 9 rocket and the Dragon Endurance spacecraft is scheduled for launch on September 29, 2022 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. 

This will be Mann’s first spaceflight since becoming an astronaut in 2013. She will be the spacecraft commander responsible for all phases of flight, from launch to re-entry.  

Three other astronauts – NASA’s Josh Cassada, JAXA’s Wakata Koichi, and Roscomos’s Anna Kikina – will join Mann in the agency’s SpaceX Crew-5 mission to the International Space Station. 

Having earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the US Naval Academy and a master’s degree in mechanical engineering, Mann also served as a test pilot in the F/A-18 Hornet and Super Hornet fighters.  

“It’s very exciting,” Mann told Indian Country Today, referring to being the first Native American woman in space. “I think it’s important that we communicate this to our community, so that other Native kids, if they thought maybe that this was not a possibility or to realize that some of those barriers that used to be there are really starting to get broken down.” 

 

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