Native Astronaut Nicole Aunapu Mann To Make History In Space Station Mission

NASA astronaut Nicole Aunapu Mann is on the brink of one historic first and in the running for another.

Mann, a member of the Wailacki of the Round Valley Indian Tribes in Northern California, will be commander of the SpaceX Crew-5 mission that is preparing to travel to the International Space Station on Sept. 29 or later.

The mission will make Mann the first-ever Native American woman in space, according to Indian Country Today, as she prepares to spend half a year doing roughly “250 scientific experiments” at the space station.

Mann, a colonel in the Marines, called the accomplishment “very exciting.”

“I think it’s important that we communicate this to our community, so that other Native kids, if they thought maybe that this was not a possibility or to realize that some of those barriers that used to be there are really starting to get broken down,” she told ICT.

Mann’s space station mission would mark 20 years since NASA astronaut and Chickasaw Nation member John Herrington flew aboard the space shuttle Endeavour to become the first Native American to enter space, according to CBS News.

Mann will join three others on the mission including NASA astronaut Josh Cassada, Russian cosmonaut Anna Kikina and astronaut Koichi Wakata of Japan’s JAXA space agency.

Mann has received a number of military honors including multiple Air Medals, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals and Commendation Medals.

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