Nicole Mann to become first Native American woman in space: 'I feel very proud'

If all goes as planned, Nicole Aunapu Mann will lead NASA’s Crew-5 mission to the International Space Station next month.

And she'll become the first Native American woman in space, according to Reuters.

Mann, a member of the Wailacki of the Round Valley Indian Tribes in Northern California, will be commander of the SpaceX Crew-5 mission, set to launch Oct. 3, according to NASA.

This will be Mann’s first spaceflight since becoming an astronaut in 2013, according to NASA. As mission commander, she will be responsible for all phases of flight, from launch to reentry.

She will serve as an Expedition 68 flight engineer aboard the station, NASA reported.

Her crewmates include Anna Kikina of Roscosmos, the Russian space program; Josh Cassada of NASA; and Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

Mann was born in Petaluma, California, according to NASA. She earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy and a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford University with a specialty in fluid mechanics, NASA reported.

She is a colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps and was a test pilot in the F/A-18 Hornet and Super Hornet.

Astronaut Nicole Mann answers questions during Friday's press conference at the Kennedy Space Center. Mandatory Credit: Craig Bailey/FLORIDA TODAY via USA TODAY NETWORK
Astronaut Nicole Mann answers questions during Friday's press conference at the Kennedy Space Center. Mandatory Credit: Craig Bailey/FLORIDA TODAY via USA TODAY NETWORK

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“It has been a long journey, but it’s been so well worth it,” Mann told Reuters.

The first Native American man in space was John Herrington in 2002.

“I feel very proud,” Mann told the outlet. “It’s important that we celebrate our diversity and really communicate that specifically to the younger generation.”

Natalie Neysa Alund covers trending news for USA TODAY. Reach her at nalund@usatoday.com and follow her on Twitter @nataliealund.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Astronaut Nicole Mann to be first Native American woman in space