NASA has bumped an astronaut slated to be the first African-American resident on a Space Station off an upcoming spaceflight, in a rare move for the space agency so close to launch.
Astronaut Jeanette Epps, 47, was supposed to rocket away in early June, and would have been the first African-American to live on the International Space Station.
Late Thursday, NASA announced it was pulling Epps off the mission but didn’t disclose why.
Astronaut Jeanette Epps (in a 2016 spacewalk training session in Houston) was supposed to be the first African-American to live on the International Space Station
Thursday NASA announced it was pulling her off the June mission for undisclosed reasons
Brandi Dean, a NASA spokesperson, said several factors were considered, but could not elaborate further.
‘These decisions are personnel matters for which NASA doesn’t provide information,’ Dean told collectSPACE.com.
NASA announced that Epps will be replaced by her backup, Serena Aunon-Chancellor.
Epps will now assume duties at the Astronaut Office at Johnson Space Center in Houston.
The space agency said she would ‘be considered for assignment to future missions.’
Meanwhile, the astronaut is returning to Houston from Russia where she had been training to fly alongside a German and a Russian.
Dean added on Friday the decision to remove Epps from the mission was a NASA decision, not the Russian Space Agency’s.
News of Epps historic residency at the International Space Station was widely reported after NASA made the announcement in January of 2017.
‘Next year, astronaut Jeanette Epps will add her name to an exclusive list of women who have traveled to space,’ Woman’s Day reported in it’s 80th birthday issue in September.
NASA announced her replacement will be Epps’ back-up Serena Aunon-Chancellor (pictured)
Soyuz MS 01 pictured docked at the International Space Station, where Epps was expected to be residing
‘After almost a decade of training in robotics and the Russian language — so that she can communicate with the cosmonauts on her mission — she will become the first African American woman to live and work long-term at the International Space Station.’
Fellow African American astronauts have visited the station on missions, including Robert Curbeam, Alvin Drew, Joan Higginbotham, Leland Melvin, Robert Satcher and Stephanie Wilson, but none have lived there.
NASA assigned her to the flight a year ago.