Published: Mon, January 22, 2018
Science | By Cecil Little

Rare move by NASA: Astronaut bumped from space station

Rare move by NASA: Astronaut bumped from space station

When asked by email about the reason for the change to Epps' role, NASA spokeswoman Brandi Dean told Gizmodo that NASA doesn't provide information on these "personnel matters".

Jeanette Epps, a United States astronaut born in Syracuse, has her doctorate in aerospace engineering, which she completed in 2000.

But all of sudden, the space agency made a decision to bump Epps off the upcoming flight and replace her with a backup.

Jeanette Epps was to be the first African-American crew member to live and work on the station for an extended period of time. The removal is also significant, as Epps was to be the first African-American US astronaut assigned to the space station team.

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When people come back from space, I see how much they want to go again.

Epps, a native from NY, will be replaced by the other novice from the 2009 class, Serena Aunon-Chancellor, who was serving as Epps' backup for this mission.

Epps, an engineer, will be considered for future space missions, according to NASA. After graduating Dr. Epps continued training by participating in NEEMO (NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operation), geologic studies in Hawaii, and language immersion in Moscow as well as continued training in EVA, robotics and T-38.

Epps was slated to fly to the ISS from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, aboard a Soyuz rocket along with the mission's Russian commander Sergei Prokopyev and the European Space Agency's German astronaut Alexander Gerst.

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NASA announced some changes to the space station missions and the flight assignments for 2018 on Thursday. After the completion of her PhD, she spent two years working in a laboratory before being recruited by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Serena Auñón-Chancellor will serve as Epps' replacement.

The flight crew plans to spend at least six months at the International Space Station.

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