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University of Maryland graduate set to be first Black woman on International Space Station in 2021

Jeanette Epps earned a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering, which led to her acceptance into NASA in 2009. Here, she's all smiles after the Nasdaq Stock Market closing bell ceremony in New York on July 19, 2019.
Jeanette Epps earned a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering, which led to her acceptance into NASA in 2009. Here, she's all smiles after the Nasdaq Stock Market closing bell ceremony in New York on July 19, 2019. (JOHANNES EISELE / AFP/Getty Images)

A University of Maryland graduate is going to be the first Black woman on an International Space Station crew. The launch is set for next year.

Jeanette Epps, who earned a master’s degree in science in 1994 and a doctorate in aerospace engineering in 2000 from College Park, is joining NASA’s first Boeing CST-100 Starliner mission, according to a news release this week from NASA.

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The flight will go to the ISS in 2021 for a six-month expedition and it will be Epps’ first flight. She will be with two other astronauts, Sunita Williams and Josh Cassada.

Epps worked as a NASA graduate student researchers project fellow while earning her doctorate and wrote several journal and conference articles on her research. After graduate school, she co-wrote several patents while working in a research laboratory. After two years, the CIA recruited her to be a technical intelligence officer. Epps joined NASA in 2009.

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