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The Story Behind the First Black Female Astronaut

Mae C. Jemison defied society's limitations and used them as a driving force in her life, leading her to becoming the first African American female astronaut. Jemison is an excellent illustration of how tenacity can help you overcome any barrier.

"I can't change my skin color," Jemison said. "I can't change my sex. I can't change other people's prejudices and expectations." To her, the only thing she could do was prove them wrong.

Mae Jemison is an American astronaut and physician who was the first African American woman to be admitted into NASA’s astronaut training program. After more than a year of training, she became the first African American woman astronaut, earning the title of science mission specialist. Jemison flew into space on September 12, 1992, aboard the Endeavor on mission STS47, becoming the first African American woman in space. During her eight days in space, Jemison conducted experiments on weightlessness and motion sickness on the crew and herself. In all, she spent more than 190 hours in space before returning to Earth on September 20, 1992.

Following her historic flight, Jemison noted that society should recognize how much both women and members of other minority groups can contribute if given the opportunity.


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