Jeanette J. Epps
Technical Intelligence Officer at CIATechnical Specialist at Ford Motor Company
|Selection||2009 NASA Group|
Jeanette Jo Epps (born November 3, 1970) is an American aerospace engineer and NASA astronaut. Epps received both her M. S. and Ph.D degrees in aerospace engineering from the University of Maryland, where she was part of the rotor-craft research group and was a NASA GSRP Fellow. She was chosen for 20th class of NASA astronauts in 2009, graduating in 2011. Epps currently serves as a member of the ISS Operations Branch and has completed analog astronaut missions, including NEEMO 18 and CAVES 19. She is the second woman and first African-American woman to have participated in CAVES.
Early life and education
Jeanette Epps was born in Syracuse, New York, one of seven children born to Henry and Luberta (née Jackson) Epps, Mississippians who moved to Syracuse as part of the Great Migration. She and her twin sister Janet excelled in math and science. She graduated from Corcoran High School in Syracuse and earned a B.S. degree from Le Moyne College and an M.S. and a Ph.D degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Maryland.
Early Research and Career
While pursuing her M.S. and Ph.D at the University of Maryland, Epps was awarded a NASA GRSP Fellowship and went on to publish many academic works which have been highly cited. Her research was focused in the area of materials engineering, which included comprehensive testing of composite swept-tip beams, comparison of analytical models with experimental results for shape memory alloys, and use of shape memory alloy actuators for tracking helicopter rotor blades in-flight.
After graduating, Epps worked in research at Ford Motor Company, then as a Technical Intelligence Officer with the Central Intelligence Agency. Her work at the Ford Motor Company, resulted in a provisional patent involving the application of magnetostrictive actuators to reduce vibrations in the suspension control arms, and later, a US patent for detection of the location of a frontal collision in an automobile. She worked at the CIA for seven years, including deployments to Iraq.
In June 2009, Epps was selected as an astronaut candidate for the 20th class of NASA astronauts and later qualified in 2011. Her training included extensive Russian, spacewalk (EVA) and robotics training, along with geology. She has also completed T-38 jet training and has attended the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS).
Epps subsequently served as an aquanaut aboard the Aquarius underwater laboratory during the NEEMO 18 undersea exploration mission for nine days starting July 21, 2014. She has also participated in geologic studies in Hawaii. Epps has worked with the Generic Joint Operation Panel as a representative, which included work on crew efficiency on the ISS. This work resulted in the Johnson Space Center Director's Innovation Group Achievement Award in 2013. She has also worked as CAPCOM for Mission Control, including serving as lead CAPCOM, and currently serves in ISS Operations Branch. Epps has also completed training in winter and water survival in Star City, Russia.
On January 4, 2017, NASA announced that Epps would be assigned as a flight engineer to the International Space Station in mid-2018 for Expeditions 56 and 57, becoming the first African American space station crew member, the first African American to launch aboard the Russian Soyuz vehicle, and the 15th African American to fly in space, but on January 16, 2018, NASA announced that Epps had been replaced by her backup Serena M. Auñón-Chancellor, but that Epps would "be considered for assignment to future missions". The reason for Epps' removal was not stated, and NASA spokesperson Brandi Dean said, "These decisions are personnel matters for which NASA doesn't provide information." On January 20, Epps' brother Henry posted a statement on Facebook, since deleted, that "My sister Dr. Jeannette Epps has been fighting against oppressive racism and misogyny in NASA and now they are holding her back and allowing a Caucasian Astronaut to take her place!" Jeanette Epps stated that she could not comment on her brother's post or the reason why she was pulled off the mission, but did state that she has no medical condition or family problem preventing her from flying, and that her training had been successful. The Washington Post stated that "Last-minute crew changes are not unusual at NASA."
In 2019, Epps completed the ESA CAVES training program simulating the demands of exploring unknown terrains, such as to be expected on the Moon and Mars. Epps is the second woman to participate in CAVES, following fellow NASA astronaut, Jessica Meir.
Epps also participates in public speaking and she has been a guest speaker at the University of Maryland multiple times. In 2013, she gave the commencement speech for the A. James Clark School of Engineering's Winter Commencement Ceremony.
On August 25, 2020, NASA announced that Epps would join the first operational mission of Boeing's CST-100 Starliner to the International Space Station. According to The New York Times, Epps "would be the first Black woman to be part of an I.S.S. crew."  African-American astronauts were members of space-shuttle crews during ISS construction, until Victor Glover none had become a crew member making an extended stay.
Awards and Honors
- 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999 NASA GSRP Fellowship
- 2003, 2004, 2008 Exceptional Performance Award
- 2012 Academy of Distinguished Alumni, University of Maryland
- 2013 Johnson Space Center Director’s Innovation Group Achievement Award
- 2014 Glenn L. Martin Medal, A. James Clark School of Engineering, University of Maryland
Selected Publications and Patents
- Epps, J. and Chopra, I., “Methodology for In-flight Tracking of Helicopter Rotor Blades Using Shape Memory Alloy Actuators, Journal of the American Helicopter Society, Vol. 49, No. 2, April 2004, pp. 192-200.
- Epps, J. J., and Chandra, R., "Shape Memory Alloy Actuation for Active Tuning of Composite Beams," Smart Materials and Structures Journal, 6 (1997), p. 251-256.
- Epps, J. J., and Chandra, R., "The Natural Frequencies of Rotating Composite Beams with Tip Sweep," Journal of the American Helicopter Society, Vol. 41, No. 1, January 1996, pp. 29–36.
- US7321817B2 Automobile frontal collision location detection for coordinated activation of safety systems
- List of astronauts by name
- List of astronauts by year of selection
- List of black astronauts
- List of female astronauts
- NASA HQ (June 29, 2009). "NASA Selects New Astronauts for Future Space Exploration". NASA. Archived from the original on August 1, 2009. Retrieved June 20, 2013.
- NASA (June 29, 2009). "In Their Own Words: Jeanette J. Epps". NASA. Archived from the original on October 28, 2009. Retrieved June 20, 2013.
- Lichter-Marck, Rose (2016-07-29). "The Lenny Interview: Jeanette Epps". Lenny. Archived from the original on 2017-02-01. Retrieved 2016-07-31.
- Whiting, Melanie (2016-02-18). "Jeanette J. Epps (PH.D.) NASA Astronaut". NASA. Retrieved 2020-07-12.
- "Jeanette J. Epps Oral History". NASA. 16 February 2012. Retrieved 18 October 2015.
- "Meet the cavenauts – Jeanette Epps". Caves & pangaea blog. 2019-09-12. Retrieved 2020-07-12.
- Bergin, Chris (June 11, 2014). "NEEMO returns with two new underwater missions". NASASpaceflight. Retrieved June 24, 2014.
- "NASA Announces Two Upcoming Undersea Missions". NASA. June 10, 2014. Retrieved June 26, 2014.
- "CAVES and Pangaea". www.esa.int. Retrieved 2020-07-12.
- "A new journey into Earth for space exploration". Caves & pangaea blog. 2019-09-11. Retrieved 2020-07-12.
- "Syracuse native, a Le Moyne graduate, trains to be an astronaut". syracuse.com. Retrieved 2017-12-09.
- "Mammie Jackson's Obituary on Syracuse Post Standard". Syracuse Post Standard. Retrieved 2017-12-09.
- Jr, Mr Henry Harrison Epps (2015-06-14). Second Chance Connections Inc Handbook: Restoration Manuel. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. ISBN 9781514352489.
- "JEANETTE J. EPPS: Biographical data". NASA. May 2011. Retrieved 14 Feb 2014.
- "Aero Alum and NASA Astronaut Jeanette Epps speaks at UMD". aero.umd.edu. Retrieved 2020-07-12.
- Harless, Josh. "Universe of Possibilities". Retrieved 2020-07-12.
- "Google Scholar". scholar.google.com. Retrieved 2020-07-12.
- Jeanette J Epps; Inderjit Chopra (February 2001). "In-flight tracking of helicopter rotor blades using shape memory alloy actuators". Smart Materials and Structures. 10 (1). doi:10.1088/0964-1726/10/1/310/meta. ISSN 0964-1726.
- , "Automobile frontal collision location detection for coordinated activation of safety systems", issued 2003-12-05
- "Nasa removes US astronaut from ISS mission". bbc.com. Retrieved 2018-01-21.
- Karen Northon (January 4, 2017). "NASA Assigns Upcoming Space Station Crew Members". NASA press release 17-001. Retrieved January 21, 2017.
- Roberts, Thomas G. (2018). "Beyond the Glass Ceiling: Why NASA Must Continue to Launch a Diverse Astronaut Corps". CSIS Aerospace Security. Retrieved 1 Jul 2020.
- Kaplan, Sarah (22 January 2018). "NASA pulled this astronaut from a space station crew. Her brother blames racism". Washington Post. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
- Karen Northon (January 18, 2018). "NASA Announces Updated Crew Assignments for Space Station Missions". NASA press release 18-004. Retrieved January 21, 2017.
- "NASA removes astronaut Jeanette Epps, Syracuse high school grad, from flight crew". syracuse.com. Retrieved 2018-01-21.
- "NASA's Jeanette Epps' brother blames racism for why she got removed from her upcoming mission". Newsweek. 21 January 2018. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
- "NASA faces calls for reinstatement of first African American on International Space Station crew". Houston Chronicle. 22 January 2018. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
- "WIAA meets Jeanette Epps and Su Curley! – WIAA". blog.umd.edu. Retrieved 2020-07-12.
- "Epps to Deliver Winter Commencement Speech". enme.umd.edu. Retrieved 2020-07-13.
- Potter, Sean (2020-08-25). "Astronaut Jeanette Epps Joins First Operational Boeing Crew Mission". NASA. Retrieved 2020-08-25.
- Waller, Allyson (November 15, 2020). "Victor Glover will be the first Black crew member on the space station". The New York Times. Retrieved November 17, 2020.
Next year, he [astronaut Victor Glover] could be followed by Jeanette Epps, who would be the first Black woman to be part of an I.S.S. crew. She will fly aboard the first operational crewed trip of Boeing’s Starliner capsule.
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