Jeanette Epps may not be well-known yet, but by next year she will likely be a household name. Ms. Epps is poised to serve as Flight Engineer for Expeditions 56 and 57 to the International Space Station (ISS) beginning in May 2018. She will be the first African-American astronaut to serve as an ISS crew member.
But who is Jeanette Epps?
Epps was born on November 3, 1970, in Syracuse, New York. She graduated from Thomas J. Corcoran High School in 1988 before pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics at Le Moyne College. Jeanette completed her studies as an undergraduate in 1992 and furthered her education at the University of Maryland where she attained a Master of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering in 1994, followed by a doctorate in the subject in 2000.
While her mom inspired her to be anything that she desired in life, it was Epps’s brother who presented the idea of a career in aerospace. “My older brother suggested it when I was nine years old,” she revealed during an interview with Lenny Letter. “He came home from college, looked at my grades, and said, ‘You can be an aerospace engineer, a doctor, maybe even an astronaut.” While the idea of being an astronaut seemed far-fetched for Epps, she embraced the possibility of becoming an aerospace engineer.
Epps’ Career in Science
Before beginning her journey at NASA, Epps worked as a Technical Specialist in the Scientific Research Laboratory of Ford Motor Company. She provided proof-of-concept work that centered around using magnetostrictive actuators to decrease vehicle vibrations that come from suspension control arms. The idea earned a provisional patent. Epps also assisted in research on automobile collision and countermeasure systems that led to a full US patent while at Ford.
Epps’ career as an aerospace engineer for NASA has also seen various triumphs. She has contributed to crew efficiency in between assignments and supported two previous expeditions as an astronaut. In 2018, Jeanette Epps is scheduled to spend six months on assignment in outer space.