Mae Jemison: Shooting for the Stars

Mae Jemison made history, blasting off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida aboard the space shuttle Endeavor to become the first African American woman to go to space. Jemison broke ground as a role model for the next generation of Black women seeking careers in aviation and science.  


As a young girl, Jemison dreamed of being an astronaut, upset at the lack of female astronauts while watching the Apollo missions on TV. She committed to a career in science, earning a bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering and bachelor of arts in African and African American studies from Stanford University before attending medical school at Cornell University. 


Although serving as a medical officer in the Peace Corps in Africa for two years and opening her own private practice as a doctor, Jemison never gave up on her girlhood dream of becoming an astronaut. After submitting several applications, she was accepted to the astronaut program at NASA as a member of the first group chosen after the space shuttle Challenger explosion. 


Jemison realized her dream on Sept. 12, 1992, when she blasted off aboard the space shuttle Endeavor, becoming the first African American woman in space. During her flight, she orbited Earth 127 times before landing at the Kennedy Space Center. 


Despite achieving her lifelong goal, Jemison set her sights higher, striving to improve representation for Black women in STEM and pushing space exploration further. She founded the Jemison Institute for Advancing Technology in Developing Countries, wrote a children’s book about her life, and even appeared on Star Trek: The Next Generation as the first real astronaut on the show. Jemison is now leading the 100 Year Starship project, working to make human space travel to another star possible within the next 100 years.  


Mae Jemison made her dream a reality and continues to open the door for future generations of Black women dreaming of a career in science and even traveling beyond our solar system. 



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