Mae Jemison- A pioneer: The first African American woman into space

Dr. Mae Jemison. Austronaut, Founder of Several Tech Companies, Peace Corps Volunteer

Original Author: Nola Taylor Redd
Original Publications:
Date: October 4, 2018

The stars were literally shining on Dacatur, Alabama on October 17th, 1956. Dr. Mae Jemison born just 2 years after Brown vs Board of Education, and went on to be our first Black Female astronaut in 1992.

Mae was a superior student and talented dancer who enrolled in Stanford University at just 16 years of age. Mae took a challenging course load, graduating with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemical Engineering, as well as fulfilling the coursework for a BA in African American Studies. Mae loved dance and the arts, nurturing her talent through rigorous practice, to the point that she considered moving to NY for a professional career in dance. But, she did not want to give up science, and so went on to Cornell Medical School. Proving that pursuing interests is a beautiful part of life and keeps us sharp, while in Med School, Mae simultaneously took classes at the Alvin Ailey School of Dance.

Medical School led to 2 years in the Peace Corps in Sierra Leone and Liberia. After the Peace Corps, Mae continued to do good and worked in Camodian refugee camps where she saved many, many lives. Later, Mae, eager for what was her dream, applied to NASA in 1983 but was unfortunately turned down. But that’s OK, Mae just applied again and in 1987 was accepted!

September 12 – 20, 1992 Dr. Mae Jamison got to do what so few did, she was a NASA astronaut flying aboard the spaceship Endeavor. Mae’s role on the spaceship was to ensure the success of the launch, maintain the software, and to manage several science experiments.

When the space shuttle Endeavour carried her and six other astronauts on 126 orbits around the Earth. A mission specialist, Jemison was a co-investigator of two bone cell research experiments, one of 43 scientific investigations that were done on mission STS-47. The shuttle landed at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Sept. 20. Over the course of her only space voyage, Jemison logged 190 hours, 30 minutes, and 23 seconds in space.

After her time with NASA as an astronaut, Mae had many incredible achievements, a list of a few are below:

Jemison left NASA in March 1993. She went on to teach at Dartmouth College. Mae also founded The Jemison Group, the goals of which were to help improve health care in West Africa, collect and improve on solar thermal energy and the expand and improve the use of satellite based communication to help facilitate coordinating medical care across the region.

She has also taken over leadership of the 100-Year Starship program established by DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The project works to make human space travel beyond the solar system a reality within the next century — but in a way that includes and benefits as many people on Earth as possible.

Mae acted in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, making her the only real astronaut ever on Star Trek.

Mae was the host and technical consultant of the Discovery Chanel’s “World of Wonder”.

Mae founded two of her own tech companies, and created an International Science Camp teaching critical thinking skills. Princeton, DePaul, Rensselear Polytechnic Institute, Dartmouth, and 5 other Universities have included this education on their campuses.

In 1999, Mae founded the BioSentient Corporation. Having experience with the NASA techniques that use biofeedback and autogenic therapy to ensure the NASA team in orbit would remain relaxed (as it’s an incredibly physical experience) Mae saw an opportunity to help even more people. Her company obtained the license from NASA to use their technology previously available onto to an elite few, in order to develop a portable device to help manage stress, migraine headaches, nausea, hypertension and a wealth of other ailments that many more people would have access to.

In 2012, Mae received a $500,000 grant from the US Department of Defense to work on technologies to bring space flight beyond it’s current abilities, and past our solar system.

·All this, and Mae was also selected as one of People Magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful people in the world and awarded 9 honorary doctorates.

And the dance career that Mae once dreamed of? In her spare time, Mae went on to choreograph and produce several shows of modern jazz and African dance.

Quotes from Mae Jemison

Best Quote: “Martin Luther King didn’t just have a dream, he got things done.”

“The thing that I have done throughout my life is to do the best job that I can and to be me.” – Ebony Magazine, October 1987

“Never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations…If you adopt their attitudes, then the possibility won’t exist because you’ll have already shut it out … You can hear other people’s wisdom, but you’ve got to re-evaluate the world for yourself.” – At the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students, November 2009

Written by
No comments