An amazing milestone for aspiring female astronauts has come with the news that astronaut Nicole A. Mann will be the first Native American Woman to enter space this fall.
Born in California, Nicole Aunapu Mann has had a fascinating journey leading up to this historic moment.
According to her NASA biography, before being selected by NASA in 2013 as a member of their 21st astronaut class, Nicole was a Second Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps in 1999. She has been deployed twice to “support combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq” and received her Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University in 2001.
Today, she is training for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5 mission, which NASA writes is “the fifth rotational mission to the International Space Station aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft.” The crew is set to launch no earlier than September 29th.
According to ICT, a non-profit news channel that serves Indigenous communities, Nicole is enrolled in Wailacki of the Round Valley Indian Tribes in northern California.
When asked how she felt about being the first Native woman in space, she said, “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.”
ICT writes that Nicole and three other astronauts will be on board for six months. They plan to conduct over 250 scientific experiments in the space station, which Nicole describes as a “floating laboratory.”
One of Nicole’s favorite scientific elements that will take place on board is the “biofabrication facility.
NASA; pictured above is Nicole