Nicole Mann makes history as 1st Native American woman in space

Nicole Mann
Nicole Mann Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

SpaceX's fifth manned mission to the International Space Station (ISS) launched from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Wednesday. Heading the mission as commander is Nicole Mann, the first Native American woman to go to space.

The former Marine Corps pilot joined NASA's astronaut corps in 2013 and this is her first trip to space since joining, CNN reports. Mann and three crewmates will spend six months in the ISS conducting more than 200 experiments, reports NPR. This feat comes 20 years after John Herrington became the first Native American man in space back in 2002.

Mann is from Northern California. She is part of the Wailaki tribe of the Round Valley reservation, CNN continues. She began a military career as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps in 1999 and later trained in flight, aiding in combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to NASA's website. She realized later in life that she wanted to become an astronaut.

Mann's crewmates also come from a variety of backgrounds. Also on board are Josh Cassada, a fellow NASA astronaut who is from Minnesota, Koichi Wakata of Japan's space agency, called JAXA, and Anna Kikina, a Russian cosmonaut.

"If you don't go after a dream or a goal and if you don't try, you're never going to make it," Mann told NPR. "Never discount yourself."

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