January 25, 2017 — Next year, Jesuit-educated astronaut Jeanette Epps will make history by becoming the first African-American to live and work aboard the International Space Station. Epps will leave the Earth's atmosphere in May 2018 and stay aboard the space station for six months, serving as flight engineer.
A native of Syracuse, New York, Epps attended Le Moyne College and majored in physics. She would go on to earn her doctorate at the University of Maryland and eventually work at Ford Motor Company. While at Ford, she worked as a technical specialist in the Scientific Research Laboratory, where she studied the effects of vibrations on cars. Her work resulted in several shared patents.
Epps joined the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in 2002 and worked there until she was selected out of more than 3,500 applicants to be one of 14 members of NASA's 2009 astronaut class. She was then trained in underwater space walks, robotics, jet flying, wilderness survival and Russian (three of her colleagues aboard the space station will be Russian).
Culmination of a great week of training in Star City. pic.twitter.com/gUU1y319fM— Jeanette J. Epps (@Astro_Jeanette) December 10, 2016
In 2016, Epps returned to Le Moyne as the commencement speaker. “Jeanette embodies so many of the attributes of a Le Moyne graduate — she's incredibly smart, successful, innovative and courageous," said Le Moyne President Linda LeMura.