Jeanette Epps, a NASA astronaut was set to become the first African-American crew member aboard the International Space Station (ISS) this year. However, that will not happen as NASA announced they decided to pull her from the Expedition 56/67 that would be sending the crew to the ISS later in June 2018. NASA has further not given any specific reasons for the decision to pull Epps from that flight.
In place of Epps will be Serena Auñón-Chancellor. Both Epps and Auñón-Chancellor were part of the 14 finalist astronaut candidates selected by NASA out of an initial cohort of 3,500 applicants back in 2009.
Epps holds a PhD in aerospace engineering and has worked for seven years at the CIA as a technical intelligence officer. While Auñón-Chancellor is a medical doctor with certification in internal and aerospace medicine.
In an email sent to news published The Verge, Brandi Dean a spokesperson for NASA wrote, “A number of factors are considered when making flight assignments; these decisions are personnel matters for which NASA doesn’t provide information.”
Epps will be joining the Astronaut Office at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. It seems for now, at least, she will not be breaking the first African-American crew member at the ISS. Though there is still the possibility of her joining the crew in space in future missions.