Jessica Watkins Makes History as First Black Woman on ISS Crew

Jessica Watkins

Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls.

NASA has assigned astronaut Jessica Watkins to serve as a mission specialist on the agency’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission, the fourth crew rotation flight of the Crew Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station, which docked on April 27, 2022.

This is Watkins’ first trip to space following her selection as an astronaut in 2017. Watkins joins NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren and Robert Hines, as well as European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, as a crew member for the Crew-4 mission.

Watkins was born in Gaithersburg, Maryland, and considers Lafayette, Colorado, her hometown. She earned a bachelor’s degree in geological and environmental sciences from Stanford University and a doctorate in geology from the University of California, Los Angeles. Dr. Watkins conducted her graduate research on the emplacement mechanisms of large landslides on Mars and Earth. She began her career at NASA as an intern and has worked at the agency’s Ames Research Center in California and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. At the time of her astronaut selection, Watkins was a postdoctoral fellow in the Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences at the California Institute of Technology, where she collaborated as a member of the Science Team for the Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity.

Follow Watkins on Instagram throughout her mission and get the latest space station crew news, images and features on InstagramFacebook, and Twitter.