Jessica Watkins is being called “the next Mercury.” At 19 years old, Watkins is the youngest African-American to ever head into space.
Her historic mission to the International Space Station will commence on June 22nd.
Watkins, currently living in Hawaii, is aboard the NASA International Space Station Expedition 55 mission. Together with Commander Alexander Gerst, she will spend about six months in space.
Beginning in June, Jessica will serve as a scientific investigator aboard the space station conducting research into what life as an astronaut is like.
When Watkins took to Twitter to unveil her big news, she said, “The future isn’t here yet. I am a beneficiary of education, critical thinking and, ultimately, self-expression.”
The future isn’t here yet. I am a beneficiary of education, critical thinking and, ultimately, self-expression.
@BarackObama I WILL NOT DESTROY WHAT I LOVE 🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾 https://t.co/aApYLltUIf — Jessica Watkins (@jessicawatkins) April 5, 2018
Watkins became the youngest woman to fly in space last year when she was just 18. The United States has never sent a woman of color into space, including Watkins, NASA’s first black female astronaut.
NASA believes that an African-American astronaut will not become the first person of color to walk on the moon.
Several African-American males have made space history in the past, including Virgil “Gus” Grissom who walked on the moon in 1969.
Watkins’ mission coincides with the 50th anniversary of Grissom’s historic lunar mission.
In an open letter about her mission, Watkins wrote, “Every January and August, my new leader shares the sad truth that Grissom died in a tragic crash during his lunar flight.”
“I have spent the past few months dreaming about July 16, 1962,” Watkins said. “I am eager to step into the starting gate of a very rare opportunity.”
Watch a brief clip of Jessica describing her space life here: