Sian Proctor Makes History as First-Ever Black Female Spacecraft Pilot

Sian Proctor is making history as the first-ever Black female spacecraft pilot.

Proctor, a geoscientist, artist and science communicator, has been paving the way in the space sector for decades. Now, years after being a finalist in NASA’s astronaut candidate program back in 2009, she is realizing her dream of becoming an astronaut as she launches to orbit with the Inspiration4 mission tonight (Sept. 15).

While the mission itself is making history as the first all-civilian mission to launch to orbit, Proctor is accomplishing a major first herself as the first Black female spacecraft pilot.

“I’m really grateful to be here and to have this opportunity,” Proctor said Sept. 14 during a news conference with reporters. “There have been three Black female astronauts that have made it to space, and knowing that I’m going to be the fourth means that I have this opportunity to not only accomplish my dream, but also inspire the next generation of women of color and girls of color and really get them to think about reaching for the stars and what that means.”

Proctor is preceded by only six other Black female astronauts in history, only three of which have flown to space.

The first-ever Black woman to fly to space was Mae Jemison, who flew on the space shuttle Endeavour with the STS-47 mission in 1992. Following her, Stephanie Wilson and Joan Higginbotham also flew with NASA shuttle missions.

There are three other Black women who are NASA astronauts but have never flown to space; they include Yvonne Cagle, Jessica Watkins and Jeanette Epps, who was selected by NASA in 2009 in the same astronaut-selection round as Proctor. Cagle works in NASA management currently, while Watkins was recently selected as part of NASA’s 22nd astronaut class.

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SOURCE: Space.com, Chelsea Gohd

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