SpaceX Crew-5 mission will take first Indigenous woman into space

Scheduled for September 29, the launch of SpaceX’s next manned flight to the International Space Station (ISS) will be historic. In addition to being the first time a Dragon spacecraft will have a cosmonaut (as Russian astronauts are called) among its crew, the Crew-5 mission will also be the first to take a native astronaut into space.

Anna Kikina, Josh Cassada, Nicole Mann and Koichi Wakata: a Russian, an American, a Native American and a Japanese make up the crew of the SpaceX Crew-5 mission. Image: NASA/SpaceX Disclosure

Nicole Aunapu Mann is a member of the Wailacki Nation, one of the native tribes native to Northern California. A mechanical engineer and naval aviator, she served in Iraq and Afghanistan and logged more than 2,500 flight hours on 25 different aircraft types, according to the newspaper. Universe today.

Among other highlights of her career at NASA, Nicole was also involved in the construction of the Space Launch System (SLS), the enormous lunar mega-rocket of the Artemis program, whose first flight is scheduled for the end of August.

In an interview with the site Indian country today, she said she was very moved to represent her people in space. “I think it’s important that we communicate this to our community, so that other Native American children, if they thought maybe it wasn’t a possibility, realize that some of these barriers that existed are really starting to fall apart. »

It’s an achievement truly worth celebrating, especially since NASA has a long history of exclusion — something the agency has been trying to change in recent years.

Proof of this is the diversity of the team of 18 astronauts selected to integrate the manned missions to the Moon, made up of people of different genders and nationalities. As Nicole is part of this team, she has a chance to become the first woman in human history to set foot on the moon.

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Nicole Mann is part of the team of astronauts selected by NASA for the Artemis missions, which demonstrates the diversity intended by the agency for the program. Image: NASA’s Artemis – Twitter

“That emotional feeling is really overwhelming,” she said when she heard the news. “That’s the best way I can describe it. »

In addition to Nicole and cosmonaut Anna Kikina, the Crew-5 mission will include American Josh Cassada and Japanese Koichi Wakata among its crew members.

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