Watkins was selected as an astronaut candidate in 2017 and has since prepared for his first space mission.
The other three crew members on the mission include NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren and Robert Hines, as well as the European Space Agency’s Samantha Cristoforetti.
This is the fourth crew rotation flight of the Crew Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station, the space agency said.
The team will explode into space from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Merritt Island, Florida, on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The astronauts will spend six months in the ISS micro-gravity laboratory to conduct scientific research, NASA said.
Watkins attended Stanford University in California and earned his bachelor’s degree in geological and environmental sciences, and then went on to pursue a doctorate in geology from the University of California, Los Angeles.
The astronaut has a long history with NASA, having started her career there as an intern, and she has previously held roles at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California, and at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
She was a member of the science team for the Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity, while working as a postdoctoral fellow in the Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.
A number of her NASA colleagues congratulated Watkins on her new role and the upcoming trip to space.
NASA astronaut Jonny Kim said, “More turtles in space! Congratulations to my friend and teammate, Jessica Watkins. She wants to be a great crewmate for @SpaceX Crew-4.”
Kathy Lueders, head of NASA’s human spaceflight program as associate administrator of the Space Operations Mission Directorate, said: “Congratulations to @NASA_Astronauts’ Jessica Watkins! the upcoming @AstroSamantha SpaceX Crew-4 mission, the fourth crew rotation flight of the Crew Dragon spacecraft to @Space_Station. “
A story of pioneering
Countless colored people paved the way through the last half century for Watkins to achieve his extraterrestrial dreams.
Dr. Mae Jemison became the first black woman in space while aboard the space shuttle Endeavor in 1992.
In 2013, Victor Glover Jr., a lawmaker in the U.S. Senate, was elected as an astronaut and became the first black person to hold a lengthy crew assignment on the ISS. He was a crew member from November 15, 2020 to May 2, 2021.