The University of Maryland grad blasts off in 2021.

Dr. Jeanette Epps is going places. Where to? Why, the International Space Station, of course!

Last week, NASA announced the New York native will be heading on a six-month-long expedition to the International Space Station, becoming the first Black woman to join the Boeing Starliner-1 crewed mission. Two fellow astronauts, Sunita Williams and Josh Cassada, will join her on the Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft. The mission is set to launch in 2021.

First started in 1998, the International Space Station was developed to conduct experiments related to the fields of astronomy and physics. The low-orbiting spacecraft is particularly useful for testing extensive spaceflight, in the case of traveling to distant planets like Mars or the moon. In other words, it's a research laboratory set in space!

Epps has a very impressive resume. Born in Syracuse, New York, she studied physics at Le Moyne College, followed by a Master's and Doctorate in aerospace engineering at the University of Maryland, College Park. While pursuing her Ph.D., she became a NASA Graduate Student Researchers Project Fellow, penning academic articles based on original research.

Post-college, she worked as a technical intelligence officer for the CIA before being recruited by NASA for their 20th astronaut class in 2009. She graduated two years later.

Black Americans, and particularly women, have been historically underrepresented in the field of STEM, and NASA has begun the work in recognizing their accomplishments. In June, the agency announced their plans to name their headquarters after mathematician and aerospace engineer, Mary Jackson, whose story was told in the movie Hidden Figures. Congress also passed a bipartisan bill to rename part of the street NASA's headquarters resides on "Hidden Figures Way."

With such a stellar background, it's apparent Epps was a fantastic choice for this mission. We look forward to seeing her blast off next year! Until then, you can check out NASA's website for more info. While Black women have visited the ISS before, none have actually served on a longterm mission there.

What do you think of this news? Will you be following the 2021 launch? Tell us in the comments!