3... 2... 1... blast off!
Four astronauts zoomed into space on Wednesday. They took off from Florida and flew to the International Space Station (ISS) high over the Earth. The mission marked a major moment in American history. Nicole Aunapu Mann became the first woman in space!
Mann took off aboard a SpaceX spacecraft called “Dragon.” Joining her were fellow American Josh Cassada, Anna Kikina from Russia, and Koichi Wakata from Japan. They’ll live and work for six months aboard the ISS. Mann isn’t just a member of this crew. She is the !
Mann grew up in California and is a member of the Wailacki Tribe. Mann’s tribe is part of a group called the Round Valley Indian Tribes. A spokesperson for the group said the tribes are “extremely proud” of Mann and her trip to space.
“Nicole has accomplished something that few Americans dare to dream,” added the spokesperson. “She blazed a trail for Indian girls all over America,” the spokesperson continued. Mann helped girls “set their sights, dreams, and goals beyond this world — proving that there is no limit.”
This may be Nicole Mann’s first visit to space. But she spent years preparing for the trip. Mann studied at the U.S. Naval Academy during the 1990s. Then in 2001 she earned an advanced engineering degree. By 2004, Mann was flying planes for the U.S. Marine Corps. Mann piloted nearly 50 missions for the U.S. military. In total, she flew more than 2,500 hours in 25 types of aircraft.
But Mann wanted to fly higher. In 2013, NASA chose her to be one of its astronauts. Now Mann has taken her goals out of this world! As leader of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5 mission, Mann will help science experiments in space!
Mann has advice for anyone who wants to follow in her footsteps. “There’s lots of ways to become an astronaut,” she said. “But the one thing everyone has in common is that they love what they do.”
“I’ve stumbled,” Mann admitted. “Everybody stumbles,” she added. “And when you do, you need to pick yourself back up,” Mann continued. “Push forward and then go after that next goal, that next dream.”
But Mann hasn’t achieved all her goals yet. She is part of NASA’s Artemis program. Some day later in the 2020s, she may be the first woman on the Moon!
Updated October 6, 2022, 5:02 P.M. (ET)
By Tyler Burdick