August 12th, 2022 Last Updated on: August 26th, 2022
Nicole Aunapu Mann will make history next month as she becomes the first Native American woman to fly into space.
Mann, who is enrolled in the Wailacki of the Round Valley Indian Tribes in Northern California, will lift off aboard SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft on the company’s Falcon 9 rocket to go to the International Space Station no earlier than Sept. 29.
According to NASA, this marks the fifth crew rotation mission of the company’s human space transportation system, and its sixth flight with astronauts, to the space station for the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.
“It’s very exciting,” Mann told ICT referring to being the first Native woman in space. “I think it's important that we communicate this to our community, so that other Native kids, if they thought maybe that this was not a possibility or to realize that some of those barriers that used to be there are really starting to get broken down.”
NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5 mission is targeted to launch no earlier than Sept. 29, 2022 with NASA astronauts @AstroDuke and @astro_josh, JAXA’s @Astro_Wakata, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina. → https://t.co/CC7DdwaMbJ pic.twitter.com/2wLEa8AS4x
— NASA Astronauts (@NASA_Astronauts) July 21, 2022
Mann will be a mission commander on the flight, meaning she'll be in charge of leading each phase of the flight, from launch at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere six months later. Mann will also serve as the Expedition 68 flight engineer on the space station.
The three other astronauts on the Crew-5 mission will be JAXA astronaut Koichi Wakata, Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina and NASA astronaut Josh Cassada. Cosmonauts are people certified by the Russian Space Agency to work in space.
While on board, the crew will conduct approximately 250 scientific experiments in the space station.
When asked what she plans to bring with her, she told ICT she has a few things in mind.
I have some special gifts for my family, which I can't say because they're a surprise. Definitely taking my wedding rings, and I have this dream catcher that my mother gave me when I was very young,” she said. “It's kind of always stayed with me throughout my time.
Mann, who's also a Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps, also told ICT she's excited about the experiments she and the other crewmembers will be conducting on the Crew-5 mission.
One of the ones that I'm looking most forward to is called the biofabrication facility. And it is literally 3D printing human cells, which to me sounds so futuristic, right?
Do you know the first Native American, man or woman, to go to space?
Watch the video below to find out!
Featured Image Credit: Norah Moram, NASA
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