November 7, 2022

Meet The First Native American Woman In Space: Nicole Mann

After launching the International Space Station on October 5, Nicole Aunapu Mann made history as the first Native American woman to travel to space.

Who is Nicole Mann?

Mann, 45, is an American test pilot and NASA astronaut in California. After graduating from Stanford University, she received her masters in mechanical engineering from Stanford University. She is registered with the Wailacki of the Round Valley Indian Tribes. 

Not only has she broken records as the first Native American woman to travel to space, but as NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5 mission commander, she is also the first woman to serve as commander of a NASA Commercial Crew Program launch.

Additionally, in 2013, Mann was also selected by NASA as one of the right members of the astronaut class to focus on space station operations.

Read: These Indigenous Women Are Breaking New Ground In Tech

Mann thinks it’s essential to recognize all types of people aboard the space station. She also highlighted the group’s advancement in diversity.

“What that does is it just highlights our diversity and how incredible it is when we come together as a human species, the wonderful things that we can do and that we can accomplish,” Mann said in an interview.

Nicole Mann’s journey to space

In October, Mann rocketed to space with her team, which included three Americans, three Russians, and one Japanese astronaut. The SpaceX mission is part of NASA’s more important purpose: to visit the moon and Mars.

In an interview, Mann described what Earth looked like from space. She described it as “absolutely overwhelming,”

“It is an incredible scene of color, of clouds and land, and it’s difficult not to stay in the cupola all day and just see our planet Earth and how beautiful she is, and how delicate and fragile she is against the blackest of black that I’ve ever seen – space – in the background.”

Mann and her team will live on board for the next six months to help complete their mission and carry out the necessary scientific experiments within the space station.

Kumba Kpakima

Kumba Kpakima is a reporter at POCIT. A documentary about the knife crime epidemic in the UK got her a nomination for the UK's #30toWatch Young Journalists of the Year.