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NASA astronaut makes history as first black ISS crew member

Jeanette Epps will be the first African-American crew member when she boards the International Space Station in 2018.

Jeanette Epps has spacewalking and robotics training and can speak Russian.

NASA

Jeanette Epps will make history as the first African-American astronaut to work on the International Space Station as a crew member.

NASA announced last week that the former CIA technical intelligence officer will be sent to the space station in May 2018. African-American astronauts have been part of space shuttle missions, but this is the first time an African-American astronaut will work on the space station as a crew member.

A New York native, Epps has a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering from the University of Maryland. She can speak Russian, which will be handy when working alongside Russian cosmonauts on the space station. Epps also has training in spacewalks, robotics, T-38 flights and wilderness survival.

Before joining the CIA and then NASA, Epps worked at Ford Motor as a technical specialist in the company's scientific research lab. Her research in magnetostrictive actuators and automobile collision location detection and countermeasure systems resulted in patents.