Caltech: Former Caltech Postdoc to Make History in Space in 2022

NASA has announced that Jessica Watkins, formerly a Chair’s Postdoctoral Scholar in the Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences (GPS) and California Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) Fellow, will serve as a mission specialist on the agency’s upcoming SpaceX Crew-4 mission to the International Space Station (ISS). Watkins will make history as the first Black woman on the ISS crew.

When Watkins was selected for the 2017 astronaut class, she had just spent two years working at Caltech on the Mars Science Laboratory mission’s Curiosity rover with John Grotzinger, the Harold Brown Professor of Geology and Ted and Ginger Jenkins Leadership Chair for GPS.

“Working with Jess Watkins was amazing,” says Grotzinger. “From the first time I met her she told me she wanted to be an astronaut and she just jumped right into the work, learning all she could about rover operations and Mars, confident that this experience would add to her already strong qualifications that might give her the edge in selection. We are thrilled to see her on the way to the ISS.”