NASA’s Nicole Aunapu Mann is the first indigenous woman in space
This fall, NASA astronaut Nicole Aunapu Mann will become the first Native American woman in space.
Mann will join NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5 mission as the commander of the Dragon spacecraft, where she will be responsible for all phases of flight from launch to re-entry, as well as flight engineer. This was announced by NASA earlier this month.
Man from Petaluma, California, is a member of the Wailacki of the Round Valley Indian tribes of Northern California, according to Indian Country Today.
“It’s very exciting,” she told the outlet of becoming the first indigenous woman in space. “I think it’s important that we share this with our community so that other Indigenous children, if they may have thought this wasn’t a possibility, or realize that some of those barriers that used to be there are really starting to break down . ”
John Herrington, an enrolled member of the Chickasaw Nation, became the first Native American to fly into space in 2002. During his 13-day journey he carried the nation’s flag and a traditional flute.
Mann told ICT she plans to bring a dream catcher that her mother gave her, as well as her wedding rings and surprise gifts that her family is planning for her.
The expedition will be Mann’s first spaceflight since she became an astronaut in 2013, when she was selected as one of eight members of NASA’s 21st class of astronauts.
Mann is also a Colonel in the Marine Corps. Her name carries numerous awards, including two Air Medals, two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, and NASA’s 2015 Stephen D. Thorne Safety Award.
On the mission, Mann will be joined by fellow NASA astronaut Josh Cassada, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Koichi Wakata, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina.
The Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon Endurance spacecraft are scheduled to launch no earlier than September 29 from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.