NASA assigns Watkins as specialist on SpaceX Crew-4 mission

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NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins poses for a portrait, Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020, in the Blue Flight Control Room at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

(WHNT) – NASA has assigned astronaut Jessica Watkins to serve as a mission specialist on the agency’s upcoming SpaceX Crew-4 mission, the fourth crew rotation flight of the Crew Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station.

According to NASA’s press release, this will be Watkins’ first trip to space following her selection as an astronaut in 2017. She joins two NASA astronauts as wells as a European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut for the Crew-4 mission.

Watkins, born in Gaithersburg, Maryland, considers Lafayette, Colorado her hometown.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in geological and environmental sciences from Stanford University and a doctorate in geology from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Dr. Watkins conducted her graduate research on the emplacement mechanisms of large landslides on Mars and Earth. She began her career at NASA as an intern and has worked at the agency’s Ames Research Center in California and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.

At the time of her astronaut selection, Watkins was a postdoctoral fellow in the Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences at the California Institute of Technology, where she collaborated as a member of the Science Team for the Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity.

Crew-4 is scheduled to launch in April 2022 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for a six-month science mission aboard the microgravity laboratory.

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