As the first African-American woman to go into space, she was an astronaut in the Endeavour’s seven-member crew. This memorable woman is Dr. Mae C. Jemison, who was a 35-year-old, black physician and engineer when she fulfilled her dream to be an astronaut.
Her epic flight in space occurred nine years after Air Force Colonel Guion S. Bluford became the first African-American man to soar as an astronaut. Up to this point, there had been a total of 92 astronauts, and of those, 74 were men and 16 were women. Dr. Jemison was one of five Afro-Americans and the only woman to become an astronaut.
Dr. Jemison was born in 1956 and grew up on the South Side of Chicago. She watched the Gemini and Apollo space flights, and she knew deep inside that one day she would be one of those astronauts flying in space.
The astronauts on TV were all male and all white, but that didn’t matter. Mae Jemison was confident that she would be a space traveler when she grew up.
At the mission briefing at NASA headquarters, Dr. Jemison shared how excited she was to be achieving her goals. She explained that her parents impressed education and the concept of exploration. They also encouraged her to follow her interests in astronomy and other sciences. As a young adult, she served in the Peace Corps.
Dr. Jemison entered private practice in Los Angeles in 1982, but after Sally Ride became the first woman astronaut in space in 1983, Dr. Jemison she felt the program had opened to women, so she applied. She was accepted in 1987.
Today, she encourages black and white children in America in the NASA space program. Dr. Jemison believes it is the right of every U.S. citizen.