DENVER — Astronaut Jessica Watkins, who grew up in Boulder County and attended Fairview High School, will become the first Black woman to spend an extended period of time living and working on the space station.
Watkins will take part in NASA’s SpaceX Crew 4 mission, which begins on April 20.
“It's a tremendous honor for me, it's an important milestone for the agency and for the country," Watkins said. "I'm just honored to be a small part of the legacy of Black women astronauts who came before me and those that will come behind me as well."
Watkins is a geologist and will serve as a mission specialist, working with scientists on the ground to conduct research. This will be her first mission.
“As a rookie... there are many different aspects of it that I look forward to. But I think that the most exciting for me, especially as a geologist, is getting to look out the window and getting to see Earth from the unique vantage point that ISS provides and being able to see geologic landforms and features from that perspective,” Watkins said.
Kjell Lindgren, a veteran member of the crew, attended the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, earned his master's degree from Colorado State University and earned his doctorate of medicine from the University of Colorado.
Lindgren went to the International Space Station seven years ago and says he looks forward to going back.
“For the first part of the mission, as we're launching to the to the International Space Station, I have the privilege of serving as commander for that segment,” Lindgren said. “Once we get on the space station, I will be one of the flight engineers.”
Lindgren says the research the crew will conduct will improve life back here on Earth.
“We will be conducting the operations that will enable future exploration to the moon and to Mars, and to really extend our presence in the galaxy,” Lindgren said.
As the crew prepares for take-off in a few weeks, Watkins says she hopes her historic mission shows young people that dreams can come true.
“Certainly, for any young girl, young person of color, young people at all, I would just say find something that you really love, something that you are super passionate about, and just pursue that relentlessly," Watkins said. "Dream big, and don't be afraid to take risks."