Jeanette Epps, Black NASA Astronaut Set To Make Space Station History, Removed From Mission
The first black woman astronaut ever assigned to the International Space Station was removed from the mission just months before it was set to launch.
Jeanette Epps, a 47-year-old former CIA agent from Syracuse, New York, was removed from the position aboard the Russian Soyuz spacecraft, according to a report from BBC. NASA did not offer a reason for Epps' removal but said she would be considered for other missions in the future. Epps will be replaced by astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor, with the Soyuz launching in June of this year.
Epps was a part of NASA's 20th astronaut class back in 2009 (she was one of 14 members of the class). Prior to that, she earned her PhD in aerospace engineering from the University of Maryland. Epps was supposed to serve as a flight engineer during her time on the Soyuz.
"We do all the research prescribed for that mission, but also all the maintenance that’s onboard. The space station is getting very old, and so it requires more and more maintenance. Even that work is research though, partly because the ISS is the biggest flying experiment of all time," Epps previously said. "We're trying to keep that experiment going. My fellow flight engineer Alex Gerst and I will be experiments as well — they’ll take data on our daily food intake, blood, things like that."