fbpx
 
History was made on Wednesday when Nicole Aunapu Mann (Wailacki of the Round Valley Indian Tribes) became the first Native American woman ever to be launched into space.

Mann serves as the mission commander on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5 space mission on the Dragon spacecraft named Endurance. The SpaceX Crew-5 mission was launched with four other astronauts on board on their way to the International Space Station. They are due to dock with the International Space Station almost 30 hours later at 4:57 EDT on Thursday.

Never miss Indian Country’s biggest stories and breaking news. Sign up to get our reporting sent straight to your inbox every weekday morning. 

 Endurance carries two NASA astronauts, Mission Commander Nicole Mann and Pilot Josh Cassada, along with JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Koichi Wakata and Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina, who will serve as mission specialists to the space station for a science expedition mission. 

This is the fifth crew rotation mission with astronauts using the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft on a Falcon 9 rocket to the orbiting laboratory as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.

Never miss Indian Country’s biggest stories and breaking news. Sign up to get our reporting sent straight to your inbox every weekday morning. 
 

NASA selected Mann to become an astronaut in 2013. She is a California native with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering. Mann is a Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps and served as a test pilot in the F/A-18 Hornet and Super Hornet. Additionally, she deployed twice aboard aircraft carriers to support combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

NASA Nichole MannNative American Nicole Mann (Wailacki of the Round Valley Indian Tribes) is commanding the spacecraft. (Photo/NASA)

 

In an interview with Native News Online in August, Mann described some of the work the crew plans to accomplish during their time at the station.

“And so when we're on board, there's about 250 experiments by scientific investigations that will be a part of everything from growing human cells to growing tomatoes in space. We'll also do a lot of maintenance on the space station and hopefully a couple spacewalks to upgrade some components outside the space station.”

She also spoke about how she did not think about becoming an astronaut until later in her career. 

“I didn’t figure that out until a little bit later on in life as a young girl growing up in Northern California,” Mann said. “I was certainly interested in math and science, but I didn’t really realize that being an astronaut was in the realm of possibility. So it wasn’t until I was flying jets in the Marine Corps, looking at my future career options, that I started looking at potentially becoming a test pilot and, from there, an astronaut. It took me a little time to get it all figured out.”

You’re reading the first draft of history. 

November is  Native American Heritage Month in the United States. We feel like every month — and every day — is a reason for celebrating Native Americans and our heritage. That’s what we try to do here at Native News Online, with stories each day that celebrate, inform and uplift American Indian and Alaska Native people. Over the past year or so, we have been especially busy with three important reporting projects that are having an impact across Indian Country:

  • Indian Boarding Schools. We’ve reported and published more than 150 stories and special live stream video events to help shine a light on the dark era of boarding schools — and help create momentum for change.
  • Native Health Desk. Launched in January, this reporting initiative was created to heighten awareness of Native American health inequities and spotlight pockets of progress in Indian Country. So far we’ve reported and published nearly 120 stories and launched a monthly health newsletter that reaches more than 23,000 readers.  
  • Native Bidaske. In March, we launched this live stream interview program to highlight the work of Native Americans who are making news and leading change in Indian Country.  We have hosted guests from the federal government and Native rights advocates as well as Indigenous actors, comedians, journalists and models.   

We hope you will join us in celebrating Native American heritage and history this November and invite you to consider the old adage that “Journalism is the first draft of history.” If you appreciate the voice Native News Online gives to Native American people, we hope you will support our work with a donation so we can build our newsroom and continue to amplify Native voices and Native perspectives.

Any contribution — big or small — helps us remain a force for change in Indian Country and continue telling the stories that are so often ignored, erased or overlooked.  Most often, our donors make a one-time gift of $20 or more, while many choose to make a recurring monthly donation of $5 or $10.  Whatever you can do, it helps fund our Indigenous-led newsroom and our ability to cover Native news. 

Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous journalism. Thank you.