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NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins to become first Black woman on ISS crew

Watkins will serve as mission specialist on what is the fourth crew rotation flight of the Crew Dragon spacecraft to the ISS, NASA says.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA astronauts aboard the SpaceX Crew-4 mission are close to landing at the International Space Station. Among the passengers, Jessica Watkins is set to make history as the first black woman on an ISS crew.

Watkins will serve as mission specialist on what is the fourth crew rotation flight of the Crew Dragon spacecraft to the ISS, NASA says. Alongside Watkins are NASA astronauts: the mission's commander Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines and European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti. 

SpaceX launched at 3:52 a.m. Wednesday. Crew-4 astronauts are slated to arrive at the space station at 8:15 p.m. EDT.

From a young age, Watkins has had her eyes set on becoming an astronaut. In an interview with NASA, she spoke about how her parents always encouraged her to get good grades and pursue something you're passionate about.

Watkins was born in Gaithersburg, Maryland, but considers Lafayette, Colorado, her hometown. She has a bachelor's degree in geological and environmental sciences from Stanford University and a doctorate in geology from the University of California, Los Angeles. 

She began her career at NASA as an intern and worked at the agency's Ames Research Center in California and MASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. 

You can follow Watkins along her ISS journey on her Instagram