Jeanette Epps
Official portrait, September 2009
Jeanette Jo Epps

(1970-11-03) November 3, 1970 (age 53)
EducationLe Moyne College (BS)
University of Maryland, College Park (MS, PhD)
Space career
NASA astronaut
Time in space
Currently in space
SelectionNASA Group 20 (2009)
MissionsSpaceX Crew-8 (Expedition 70/71)
Mission insignia
Scientific career
FieldsAerospace engineering
ThesisIn-Flight Tracking of Helicopter Rotor Blades with Tabs Using Shape Memory Alloy Actuators (2000)
Doctoral advisorInderjit Chopra

Jeanette Jo Epps (born November 3, 1970) is an American aerospace engineer and NASA astronaut.[1][2][3] Epps received both her M. S. and Ph.D. degrees in aerospace engineering from the University of Maryland, where she was part of the rotor-craft research group and was a NASA GSRP Fellow.[4][5] She was chosen for the 20th class of NASA astronauts in 2009, graduating in 2011.[1][4] Epps currently serves as a member of the ISS Operations Branch and has completed analog astronaut missions, including NEEMO 18 and CAVES 19.[4][6][7][8][9][10] She is the second woman and first African-American woman to have participated in CAVES.[6][9][10] She is currently in space for a long duration mission on the ISS, after launch in 4 March 2024, as part of the SpaceX Crew-8 crew.[11]

Early life and education

Jeanette Epps was born in Syracuse, New York,[1] one of seven children born to Henry and Luberta (née Jackson) Epps, Mississippians who moved to Syracuse as part of the Great Migration.[12][13][14] She and her twin sister Janet excelled in math and science.[12] She graduated from Corcoran High School in Syracuse and earned a B.S. degree in physics from Le Moyne College and an M.S. and a Ph.D. degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Maryland.[1][15][5][12][4][16][17]

Early research and career

While pursuing her M.S. and Ph.D at the University of Maryland, Epps was awarded a NASA GRSP Fellowship and went on to publish many academic works which have been highly cited.[4][16] Her research was focused in the area of materials engineering, which included comprehensive testing of composite swept-tip beams, comparison of analytical models with experimental results for shape memory alloys, and use of shape memory alloy actuators for tracking helicopter rotor blades in-flight.[4][18][19]

After graduating, Epps worked in research at Ford Motor Company, then as a Technical Intelligence Officer with the Central Intelligence Agency.[15] Her work at the Ford Motor Company, resulted in a provisional patent involving the application of magnetostrictive actuators to reduce vibrations in the suspension control arms, and later, a US patent for detection of the location of a frontal collision in an automobile.[4][20] She worked at the CIA for seven years, including deployments to Iraq.[21]

NASA career

In June 2009, Epps was selected as an astronaut candidate[1] for the 20th class of NASA astronauts and later qualified in 2011.[15][4] Her training included extensive Russian, spacewalk (EVA) and robotics training, along with geology.[4] She has also completed T-38 jet training and has attended the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS).[4]

Epps subsequently served as an aquanaut aboard the Aquarius underwater laboratory during the NEEMO 18 undersea exploration mission for nine days starting on July 21, 2014.[8][7] She has also participated in geologic studies in Hawaii.[4] Epps has worked with the Generic Joint Operation Panel as a representative, which included work on crew efficiency on the ISS.[4] This work resulted in her winning the Johnson Space Center Director's Innovation Group Achievement Award in 2013.[4] She has also worked as CAPCOM for Mission Control, including serving as lead CAPCOM, and currently serves in ISS Operations Branch.[5][4] Epps has also completed training in winter and water survival in Star City, Russia.[6]

On January 4, 2017, NASA announced that Epps would be assigned as a flight engineer to the International Space Station in mid-2018 for Expeditions 56 and 57, but on January 16, 2018, NASA announced that Epps had been replaced by her backup Serena M. Auñón-Chancellor and would instead be "considered for assignment to future missions".[22] The reason for Epps' removal was not stated, and a NASA spokesperson said, "These decisions are personnel matters for which NASA doesn't provide information."[23] The Washington Post stated that "Last-minute crew changes are not unusual at NASA,"[24][25][26] and she was later selected for subsequent missions to the International Space Station.

In 2019, Epps completed the ESA CAVES training program simulating the demands of exploring unknown terrains like those of the Moon and Mars.[9][6][10][27] Epps is the second woman to participate in CAVES, following fellow NASA astronaut, Jessica Meir.[28][29][6][9][10]

Epps also speaks to gatherings and has done so at the University of Maryland multiple times, including at the 2013 winter commencement ceremony for the university's engineering school.[16][17][30][31] She is currently a Member of the Society for Science & the Public, in addition to the AIAA.[4]

On August 25, 2020, NASA announced that Epps would join Starliner-1, the first operational mission of Boeing's Starliner to the International Space Station, which was delayed from its scheduled launch in the summer of 2021.[32][33] According to The New York Times, the launch would have made Epps "the first Black woman to be part of an I.S.S. crew," a milestone that was ultimately reached instead by Jessica Watkins in 2022.[34][35][36] African-American astronauts were members of space-shuttle crews to the ISS while the station was being constructed, but until Victor Glover went to the station in May 2021, none had made an extended stay as a crew member.[37][36]

Epps began cross-training on the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft as the Starliner-1 mission kept getting delayed.[38]

In August 2023, NASA announced that Epps would fly as a Mission Specialist on SpaceX Crew-8, a half-year mission to the ISS that launched on 4 March 2024.[11] The mission makes her the second black woman to be part of a long-duration mission at the ISS.[39]

Awards and honors

Honorary doctorates

Selected publications

Epps has authored several highly referenced works, including conference and journal papers from her graduate research, along with a patent from her work at the Ford Motor Company.[4][18]

See also


Public Domain This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

  1. ^ a b c d e NASA HQ (June 29, 2009). "NASA Selects New Astronauts for Future Space Exploration". NASA. Archived from the original on August 1, 2009. Retrieved June 20, 2013.
  2. ^ NASA (June 29, 2009). "In Their Own Words: Jeanette J. Epps". NASA. Archived from the original on October 28, 2009. Retrieved June 20, 2013.
  3. ^ Lichter-Marck, Rose (July 29, 2016). "The Lenny Interview: Jeanette Epps". Lenny. Archived from the original on February 1, 2017. Retrieved July 31, 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v Whiting, Melanie (February 18, 2016). "Jeanette J. Epps (PH.D.) NASA Astronaut". NASA. Retrieved July 12, 2020.
  5. ^ a b c d "Jeanette J. Epps Oral History". NASA. February 16, 2012. Retrieved October 18, 2015.
  6. ^ a b c d e "Meet the cavenauts – Jeanette Epps". Caves & pangaea blog. September 12, 2019. Retrieved July 12, 2020.
  7. ^ a b Bergin, Chris (June 11, 2014). "NEEMO returns with two new underwater missions". NASASpaceflight. Retrieved June 24, 2014.
  8. ^ a b "NASA Announces Two Upcoming Undersea Missions". NASA. June 10, 2014. Retrieved June 26, 2014.
  9. ^ a b c d "CAVES and Pangaea". Retrieved July 12, 2020.
  10. ^ a b c d "A new journey into Earth for space exploration". Caves & pangaea blog. September 11, 2019. Retrieved July 12, 2020.
  11. ^ a b "Space Station Assignments Out for NASA's SpaceX Crew-8 Mission". August 5, 2023. Retrieved August 5, 2023.
  12. ^ a b c "Syracuse native, a Le Moyne graduate, trains to be an astronaut". Retrieved December 9, 2017.
  13. ^ "Mammie Jackson's Obituary on Syracuse Post Standard". Syracuse Post Standard. Retrieved December 9, 2017.
  14. ^ Epps, Mr Henry Harrison Jr. (June 14, 2015). Second Chance Connections Inc Handbook: Restoration Manuel. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. ISBN 9781514352489.
  15. ^ a b c "JEANETTE J. EPPS: Biographical data". NASA. May 2011. Retrieved February 14, 2014.
  16. ^ a b c d e "Aero Alum and NASA Astronaut Jeanette Epps speaks at UMD". Retrieved July 12, 2020.
  17. ^ a b Harless, Josh. "Universe of Possibilities". Archived from the original on September 18, 2020. Retrieved July 12, 2020.
  18. ^ a b c d e "Google Scholar". Retrieved July 12, 2020.
  19. ^ a b Jeanette J Epps; Inderjit Chopra (February 2001). "In-flight tracking of helicopter rotor blades using shape memory alloy actuators". Smart Materials and Structures. 10 (1): 104–111. Bibcode:2001SMaS...10..104E. doi:10.1088/0964-1726/10/1/310. ISSN 0964-1726. S2CID 250829326.
  20. ^ US 7321817, Prakah-Asante, Kwaku O.; Rao, Manoharprasad K. & Strumolo, Gary S. et al., "Automobile frontal collision location detection for coordinated activation of safety systems", published 2008-01-22, assigned to Ford Global Technologies LLC 
  21. ^ "Nasa removes US astronaut from ISS mission". Retrieved January 21, 2018.
  22. ^ Karen Northon (January 18, 2018). "NASA Announces Updated Crew Assignments for Space Station Missions". NASA press release 18-004. Retrieved January 21, 2017.
  23. ^ "NASA removes astronaut Jeanette Epps, Syracuse high school grad, from flight crew". Retrieved January 21, 2018.
  24. ^ Kaplan, Sarah (January 22, 2018). "NASA pulled this astronaut from a space station crew. Her brother blames racism". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 23, 2018.
  25. ^ "NASA's Jeanette Epps' brother blames racism for why she got removed from her upcoming mission". Newsweek. January 21, 2018. Retrieved January 23, 2018.
  26. ^ "NASA faces calls for reinstatement of first African American on International Space Station crew". Houston Chronicle. January 22, 2018. Retrieved January 23, 2018.
  27. ^ Sauro, Francesco; De Waele, Jo; Payler, Samuel J.; Vattano, Marco; Sauro, Francesco Maria; Turchi, Leonardo; Bessone, Loredana (July 1, 2021). "Speleology as an analogue to space exploration: The ESA CAVES training programme". Acta Astronautica. 184: 150–166. Bibcode:2021AcAau.184..150S. doi:10.1016/j.actaastro.2021.04.003. hdl:11585/819077. ISSN 0094-5765. S2CID 234819922.
  28. ^ "Meet the cavenauts – Jeanette Epps – Caves & pangaea blog". Retrieved May 21, 2021.
  29. ^ "A helping hand in the dark – Caves & pangaea blog". Retrieved May 21, 2021.
  30. ^ "WIAA meets Jeanette Epps and Su Curley! – WIAA". Archived from the original on May 7, 2016. Retrieved July 12, 2020.
  31. ^ "Epps to Deliver Winter Commencement Speech". Retrieved July 13, 2020.
  32. ^ Roston, Michael (June 2, 2023). "Boeing and NASA Delay Launch of Starliner Astronaut Spacecraft Again". The New York Times. Retrieved August 7, 2023.
  33. ^ Potter, Sean (August 25, 2020). "Astronaut Jeanette Epps Joins First Operational Boeing Crew Mission". NASA. Retrieved August 25, 2020.
  34. ^ Najib, Shafiq (April 27, 2022). "NASA Astronaut Jessica Watkins Makes History as First Black Woman on International Space Station Mission". People. Retrieved August 7, 2023.
  35. ^ "NASA's SpaceX Crew-4 Mission". October 14, 2022. Retrieved August 7, 2023.
  36. ^ a b Waller, Allyson (November 15, 2020). "Victor Glover will be the first Black crew member on the space station". The New York Times. Retrieved November 17, 2020. Next year, he [astronaut Victor Glover] could be followed by Jeanette Epps, who would be the first Black woman to be part of an I.S.S. crew. She will fly aboard the first operational crewed trip of Boeing's Starliner capsule.
  37. ^ Whiting, Melanie (February 4, 2016). "Victor J. Glover, Jr. (Captain, U.S. Navy) NASA Astronaut". NASA. Retrieved August 7, 2023.
  38. ^ Potter, Sean (June 16, 2022). "NASA Updates Astronaut Assignments for Boeing Starliner Test Flight". NASA. Retrieved June 17, 2022.
  39. ^ Elizabeth Howell (August 4, 2023). "NASA selects astronauts for SpaceX Crew-8 mission to International Space Station". Retrieved August 7, 2023.
  40. ^ Yolanda Adams, Jeanette Epps among honorary members inducted into AKA