On This Day: Mae Jemison, First African-American Woman To Go To Space

Mae Jemison was the first African-American woman to travel in space. Here are five things you need to know about her, a trailblazer who continues to inspire generations.

Nikita Gupta
Sep 12, 2023 17:15 IST

Mae Jemison in space. Image Credits: NTEU

An accomplished American astronaut, physician, and engineer, Mae Jemison was the first African-American woman to travel in space. In 1992, starting September 12, Jemison embarked on a mission aboard the space shuttle Endeavour, spending over a week in orbit around Earth.


A remarkable figure in history, Jemison's story is one of resilience and a commitment to breaking barriers. Here are five things you need to know about Jemison, a trailblazer who continues to inspire generations.

1. NASA Space Mission

Mae Jemison's groundbreaking spaceflight took place aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour (STS-47) in September 1992. This mission made her not only the first African-American woman in space but also the first woman of colour to travel in space.


2. Educational Background

Jemison graduated from Stanford University with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering and later earned her Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree from Cornell University Medical College. Her background in both engineering and medicine played a significant role in her selection as an astronaut candidate.

Before becoming an astronaut, Jemison worked as a general practitioner and in medical research. She also served in the Peace Corps, where she provided medical care to underserved communities in West Africa.


3. Post-NASA Career

After leaving NASA, Mae Jemison pursued various endeavours. She founded The Jemison Group, a technology consulting firm, and was involved in initiatives related to science education and promoting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields, particularly among underrepresented groups.

4. Recognition and Awards


Jemison has received numerous awards and honours for her contributions to space exploration, including induction into the National Women's Hall of Fame and the International Space Hall of Fame. She has also been recognized for her advocacy of science education and her efforts to inspire the next generation of scientists and astronauts.

5. Interstellar Exploration

Mae Jemison has expressed a strong interest in interstellar travel and has been involved in initiatives related to the 100-Year Starship project, aimed at making human interstellar travel a reality within the next century.

Mae Jemison's historic journey into space and her commitment to advancing science and education have made her a trailblazing figure and an inspiration to people around the world, particularly in the fields of space exploration and STEM.

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