Women's History Month Feature: Dr. Mae Jemison - First Black Woman in Space

The month of March signifies the beginning of Women’s history Month. In honor of this occasion, we will be featuring an outstanding woman from history, highlighting the amazing accomplishments of women in our nation’s storied past

Our next installment features Dr. Mae Jemison, the first black woman in space.

Dr. Jemison was born in Alabama in 1956. Her parents were supportive of her scientific interests, but when she told her teacher she wanted to be a scientist, they assumed she meant a nurse. 

Dr Jemison also took a keen interest in space travel while noting the distinct lack of female astronauts. As she later put it, "everybody was thrilled about space, but I remember being really really irritated that there were no women astronauts."

She attended Stanford University at the age of 16, where she continued to feel discrimination from teachers being one of the few black students. She managed to obtain degrees in chemical engineering and African and African-American studies. Dr. Jemison later received her PhD from Cornell Medical College before serving two years in the Peace Corps.

In 1987, Dr. Jemison applied and was accepted into Nasa Astronaut Group 12, one of 15 chosen out of over 2,000 applicants. After some time at Kennedy Space Center, she was chosen to join the STS-47 Crew as Mission Specialist 4. She was also designated as Science Mission Specialist, a new role being tested by NASA. 

Dr. Jemison flew her only space mission from September 12th to September 20th, 1992 aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavor. The mission included carrying the Spacelab Japan module. This mission made history as Dr. Jemison became the first black woman in space.

After retiring from NASA, Dr. Jemison launched her own business and became a public speaker, as well. She founded a science camp and served as a professor at Dartmouth. She continues to devote her time to science and helping others achieve their educational dreams.


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