Nicole Aunapu Mann waited 9 long years for her chance to go into space.
Nicole Aunapu Mann waited 9 long years for her chance to go into space. And if all goes according to plan, that wait will end on October 3, when she will lead NASA’s Crew 5 mission to the International Space station. “It’s been a long journey, but it’s been well worth it,” Mann told Reuters on Friday.
Mann would be the first Native American woman in space. The first Native American in space was John Herrington in 2002.
“I feel so proud,” Mann said. “It’s important for us to celebrate our diversity and really communicate that specifically to the younger generation.”
Mann, a member of the Wailacki Indians of the Round Valley in the North Californiasays her upcoming assignment has caused excitement in her community.
“I think it’s really an audience that we don’t get to reach often,” she said.
With space travel just a few weeks away, Mann says she’ll be bringing a few mementos into orbit to remind her of Home pageamong them was a ‘dreamcatcher’, a traditional Native American protective talisman.
Mann, a marine colonel with a master’s degree in mechanical engineering, is recruited into the NASA in 2013 and completed candidate training two years later.
Former fighter pilot Who has flown US combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan now has an international crew consisting of NASA members astronaut Josh Cassada, Koichi Wakata of Japan and Russian cosmonaut Anna Kikina.
They are set to launch from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center aboard SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft and swap Crew-4 off the ISS.
The Crew-5 mission will follow the start of NASA’s landmark Artemis mission, which is set for its first launch on Monday.
The massive Space Launch System, led by the unmanned Orion Crew Capsule, is the first step in the goal of returning humans to the Moon after a half-century hiatus.
Mann says she and her ISS crew will help prepare for Artemis’ future success.
“What we’re doing in low-earth orbit is not only training astronauts, but also providing operational concepts and engineering development that we’ll need to live (with the long-term presence of humans on the moon and eventually sent us to Mars,” she said.
“So I just hope that the whole world is watching on Monday.”