First black female assigned to International Space Station pulled from mission

Chinese Space Station

By NASA Tom Buzbee, via Wikimedia Commons

Jeanette Epps, a 47-year-old former Central Intelligence Agency agent from Syracuse, was removed from the position aboard the Russian Soyuz spacecraft and replaced by another astronaut, NASA sources told the BBC.

Astronaut Jeanette Epps was supposed to travel to the International Space Station in early June. No explanation for the unexpected crew shuffle was given. The seasoned aerospace engineer was on track to launch as part of Expedition 56/57 this summer.

She will instead assume duties in the "Astronaut Office", and will be replaced by Serena M. Auñón-Chancellor, who was the second Hispanic woman to become a NASA astronaut according to NBC Latino. However, if the government is still not up and running by the time those spacewalks take place, people on Earth will not be able to watch live webcasts of the spacewalks on NASA TV or online, ABC13 reports, because that would require "non-essential" furloughed personnel to be present at NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston. Friday, Dean confirmed that Epps had returned to the active astronaut corps and would still be considered for future missions.

African-Americans have visited the space station, but Epps would have been the first to live there.

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She included: "When individuals return from space, I perceive the amount they need to go once more". Since completing her training she's worked on various NASA operations and further training while awaiting mission assignment.

Auñón-Chancellor is a medical doctor from Fort Collins, Colorado, who has spent over nine months in Russian Federation as support staff for medical operations for space station crew members.

She filled in as a specialized knowledge officer for a long time before being chosen as an individual from Nasa's 2009 space explorer class.

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