Explore the life of Mae Jemison

“Mae was a black female astronaut who was extremely smart and did very, very well in school,” said Elise Michaux, director of student involvement.

“I didn’t know who Mae Jemison was until I looked her up and found out that she was the first African American woman astronaut,” said former SHU student Karrin Thompson.

Many people either do not know who Mae Jemison was, or they know little about what she was able to accomplish. Mae Jemison was the first African American woman to be accepted into the astronaut program, as well as the first to travel into space.

Jemison, along with six other astronauts went on the STS-47 mission on the Endeavour.

The STS-47 was the 50th space shuttle mission of the astronaut program. The mission was seven days, 22 hours and 30 minutes.

The space shuttle completed 126 orbits and landed at the Kennedy Space Center located in Central Florida.

Jemison was born in Decatur, Al. on Oct. 17, 1956 and moved to Chicago, Il. at age three to maintain better educational opportunities. Jemison had a big interest in the sciences, especially astronomy.

Jemison and the rest of her crew before they go on board the Endeavor on mission STS-47. Photo courtesy of empowernetwork.com

Jemison and the rest of her crew before they go on board the Endeavor on mission STS-47. Photo courtesy of empowernetwork.com

Jemison attended Morgan Park High School and from then on knew that she wanted to pursue a career as a biomedical engineer.

She was involved in extracurricular activities at Stanford while she was in high school and she was also the leader of the Black Student Union (BSU). BSU is an organization that promotes activities of common interest such as sports and clubs, as well as cultural and educational benefits for the African American student body. Jemison graduated high school in 1973 as a consistent honor student and went on to attend Stanford University with a National Achievement scholarship.

In 1977, Jemison graduated from Stanford University with a degree in chemical engineering and a bachelor of science. She then went to Cornell University for medical college. While there, Jemison managed to study abroad in Cuba and Kenya, and also worked in Thailand at a Cambodian refugee camp and received her M.D. three years later.

After medical school, Jemison pursued a career as a medical practitioner. For the next two and a half years, Jemison taught medical research in Sierra Leone and Liberia and also was a Peace Corps medical officer in that area. In 1985, Jemison returned to the United States and decided to change careers to pursue her unceasing dream.

Jemison applied for the NASA astronaut program in October of 1985, but the selections were delayed in January of 1986.

Jemison on board STS-47 during her first travel to space. Photo courtesy of wikipedia.com

Jemison on board STS-47 during her first travel to space. Photo courtesy of wikipedia.com

Jemison then reapplied in ‘87 and was one of 15 chosen out of 2,000 people. On June 4, 1987 Jemison was chosen to be an astronaut.

Jemison trained for more than a year and was the first African American woman to earn the science mission specialist title (sms). SMS is a job where you are responsible for conducted crew-related scientific experiments that occur on the space shuttle.

Jemison and six other astronauts went into space on Sept. 12, 1992. They spent eight days in space, where Jemison orchestrated experiments on motion sickness and weightlessness on herself and the crew.

Jemison left the astronaut corps in March of 1993. From ‘95 to 2002, Jemison was a professor at Dartmouth College for Environmental Studies and also a professor at Cornell University where she once attended. There is also a high school in Huntsville, Al. named after Jemison.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *