Slated as the first African American astronaut to have been assigned on a mission by NASA after serving as a long time crew member here was pulled out of a historic mission in January and is still waiting to know the reason behind this. Though last-minute exclusions are common in NASA, taking off a black woman has led to many questions which are still unanswered.
Epps holds a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering and has worked with Ford Motors previously. The CIA qualified her as an astronaut candidate in 2009, and since then she has been under training to reach space. It was reported that NASA made a call to pull her off the mission on June 6th while she doesn’t know where the decision has come from.
She is sure that she has cleared all the qualifying criteria like health and family and everything was complete in respect of qualifications. She also opined that her cross-training with Russians would go unused as NASA leases human transport system to the space station on Russian Soyuz aircraft at high prices. However, NASA doesn’t explain the astronaut selection procedure publicly.
Epps still believes that sexism or racism would not have played a role in backing her off the mission. If these come into play then the mission will be hindered and not just an individual. She stated that performance is what matters to enter space. Even though many people including her brother believed that bigotry played a role, last minute removals are not unusual in NASA without reason. NASA claims it as personal matters for which information is not provided.
Even though there are black astronauts in NASA out of which three are women, Epps would have been the first black to be on ISS for such an extended period that even American women astronauts have not been on. In place of Epps, the mission is going to be accomplished by astronaut Serena Auñón Chancellor along with a crew from Roscosmos and European Space Agency. Epps is presently working for NASA’s Orion program as well as CAPCOM. The purpose of which is to coordinate activities of the astronauts on various missions. A dream of being the first lady, first African American women to be on space for the most extended duration and a desire to do well is however shattered.