UNITED STATES: The SpaceX Crew-5 mission to the International Space Station, scheduled for fall 2022, will be led by Marine Col. Nicole Aunapu Mann.
The Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science reports that the former F/A-18 Hornet pilot is a Wailacki member of the Round Valley Indian Tribes in northern California. Mann’s maiden space mission, SpaceX Crew-5, will make her the first Native American woman in space.
Caption John Herrington, a naval aviator and Chickasaw Nation citizen, was the first enrolled member of a Native American tribe to travel to space in 2002. By shattering the glass ceiling for Native American women, Mann’s forthcoming space mission builds on Herrington’s accomplishment.
According to her, it’s important to share this with our community “so that other Native children, if they believed perhaps that this was not a possibility or to know that some of those limitations that used to be there are starting to be ripped down,” she said.
Herrington packed an eagle feather and a Native American flute on his historic space journey. Mann intends to carry big goods of her own despite being only allowed 3.3 pounds of personal items.
I’ve got some unique gifts for my family, but I can’t tell you what they are because they’re a surprise, the woman said. I’m bringing my wedding rings and a dream catcher that my mother gave me when I was a little child, she said. It’s kind of always been there for me all these years.
Mann received a B.S. in mechanical engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1999 and was commissioned as a 2nd Lt in the Marine Corps. She studied at Stanford University and graduated with an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering with a fluid mechanics concentration. Mann attended TBS after finishing graduate school and reported to NAS Pensacola, Florida, for flying training.
Mann received her Wings of Gold in 2002, at which point she started her F/A-18 Hornet training. In support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, she deployed twice on board the USS Enterprise (CVN-65) during her time in the Marine Corps.
After that, Mann flew both the F/A-18 Legacy Hornet and the Super Hornet in test flights. During her military service, she acquired the rank of Colonel and received two Air Medals.
Mann was chosen by NASA for the astronaut programme in June 2013. She finished the demanding training in 2015 and was chosen in October 2021 to lead the Crew-5 mission. The voyage will take out from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center on or before September 29, 2022.