Mayukh Saha
Mayukh Saha
April 29, 2024 ·  2 min read

Nicole Aunapu Mann Became First Native American Woman In Space

Nicole Aunapu Mann, a NASA astronaut, became the very first Native American to travel to outer space. The woman was in command of the Crew-5 mission. It was being carried out via the SpaceX Dragon Capsule.

On this mission, her co-passengers and fellow astronauts are John Cassada, a fellow astronaut, Koichi Wakata from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and finally Anna Kikina- a Russian cosmonaut. Before her capsule was launched, Nicole Aunapu Mann- who has been registered with the Wailacki of the Round Valley Indian Tribes in California- mentioned that the day was one of the most exciting in her life. Moreover, she knows that it is a path forward for the rest of the minorities in the country. 

Being the First Native American Woman astronaut in Space will Open Up Doors For Others

Speaking to Indian Country Today, the Native American Astronaut stated, “I think it is important that we communicate this to our community, so that other Native kids, if they thought maybe this was not a possibility or to realize that some of those barriers that used to be there are really starting to get broken down.

Nicole Aunapu Mann - the first female native American astronaut.
Image Credits: NASA

In a subsequent interview with The Wall Street Journal, she mentioned that she would be taking with her a dream catcher. It was a gift from her mother. “I will keep that with me in my crew quarters when I sleep aboard the International Space Station.” According to the schedule, the spacecraft is supposed to dock at the ISS on October 6th, Thursday.[2]

Nicole Aunapu Mann, the first Native American Astronaut ever, was born in California. Over the course of her life, she first graduated from the Naval Academy in the country. Afterward, and at present, she holds the rank of Colonel in the US Marine Corps. She also earned quite a few laurels during her time as a Navy aviator. Furthermore, she has gone through multiple deployments aboard aircraft carriers. To add to this, she holds a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University. In 2013, NASA selected Mann as one of the eight members of the 21st NASA astronaut class. Their focus is space station operations.[3]

Mann would be rightfully earning her spot in the history book as the first Native American woman astronaut in space. However, John Herrington- another astronaut and a member of the Chickasaw Nation, was the first Native American astronaut in space. He decided to fly aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavor back in 2002. 

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  1. Nicole Aunapu Mann becomes first Native American woman in space.” Axios. Sareen Habeshian.
  2. Nicole Mann Becomes First Native American Woman to Go to Space.” WSJ. Joseph Pisani. October 5, 2022.
  3. NASA astronaut Nicole Aunapu Mann becomes the first Native American woman to travel to space.” CBS News. Greg Canella. October 6, 2022.