Years ago, as a girl growing up in Syracuse, Jeanette Epps never imagined that she would someday become an astronaut but now, she's on a space mission.

After a successful career in engineering, including stints at Ford and the CIA, and co-authoring several patents, Epps was selected by NASA for astronaut training.

On Sunday, March 3, 2024, Epps embarked on a journey to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard a Dragon spacecraft on a Falcon 9 rocket, where she will spend six months as part of the ISS crew.

In an interview with the University of Maryland (UMD), Epps said she couldn't be more excited and was looking forward to the awe-inspiring experience of being untethered from the Earth and witnessing it from the vantage point of space.

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Although this moment has been a long time coming for Epps, it hasn't been without its challenges. Earlier opportunities, including one on a Soyuz spacecraft in 2018 and another on a Boeing Starliner, did not materialize as planned. Yet, Epps persevered and continued her rigorous training. She underwent various preparations, such as learning to fly a T-38 jet plane and spending days in an underwater habitat.

In an interview for UMDAerospace, Epps expressed how the journey taught her valuable lessons about her limits, what excites her, what she fears, and how to overcome challenges and move forward.

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As a mission specialist on the Crew-8 flight and a flight engineer on the ISS, Epps will be responsible for maintaining equipment and systems, as well as carrying out scientific research. Epps credits her time at UMD, where she received her doctorate in aerospace engineering in 2000 under the guidance of Alfred Gessow Rotorcraft Center director Inderjit Chopra, for providing her with valuable hands-on experience. The work she did at UMD directly translates into the tasks performed by astronauts.

Beyond her scientific and technological contributions, Epps is also breaking down long-standing barriers based on race. She will become only the third Black astronaut to serve aboard the ISS, following in the footsteps of Victor Glover in 2020 and Jessica Watkins the following year.

Epps is part of a crew that includes NASA astronauts Matthew Dominick as commander, Michael Barratt as the pilot, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Grebenkin as a mission specialist. Additionally, U.S. astronaut Tracy Caldwell-Dyson will fly separately to the ISS in March aboard a Soyuz spacecraft. Together, they will conduct approximately 200 experiments in science and technology research, furthering our understanding of space.

The International Space Station

Initially constructed in 1998, the International Space Station (ISS) is approximately 250 miles above the earth's surface, traveling at 17,500 mph. The ISS orbits Earth every 90 minutes and completes around 15 orbits daily.

Gallery Credit: Ed Nice

15 New York State Observatories To View Space Like The James Webb

NASA and the James Webb Space Telescope have gotten the world excited about space once again. With breathtaking photos from space, it's safe to assume that we've all got a little bit of "Space Fever." Where can you look at stars across New York State? Where are the top observatories and places to view space?

If you're looking to look at the stars, these are some of the top places to sit back and relax from Earth to see them. We did the research for you, and we know these are open to the public. Here's a list of 15 observatories to check out:

Gallery Credit: Dave Wheeler

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