Mae Jemison is the first African-American female astronaut. In 1992, Mae Jemison flew into space aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavor, becoming the 1st black American female or woman to travel in space.
More About Mae Jemison
Mae Jemison is an American physician, engineer, and former National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) astronaut. Mae Jemison joined the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s astronaut corps in 1987 and was to serve for the STS-47 mission, during which she orbited the planet for eight days (September 12th to September 20th, 1992). Mae Jemison graduated from Stanford University with degrees in chemical engineering and African and black American studies. Mae Jemison achieved her medical degree from Cornell University. Mae Jemison was a doctor for the Peace Corps in Sierra Leone and Liberia from 1983 to 1985 and worked as a general practitioner.
Mae Jemison left the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in 1993 and founded a tech research company. Mae Jemison later formed a non-profit educational foundation and, through the foundation, is the principal of the 100 Year Starship project, which DARPA funds. Mae Jemison was also a great writer. She wrote several books for children. She also appeared on television many times, including in a 1993 episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Mae Jemison holds many honorary doctorates and people have introduced or inducted her into the International Space Hall of Fame and the National Women’s Hall of Fame.
The Early Life and Education of Mae Jemison
Mae Carol Jemison was born in Decatur (Alabama) on October 17th, 1956. She was the youngest of the three children of Dorothy Jemison and Charlie Jemison. Jemison’s father was a maintenance supervisor for a charity association. Her mum worked most of her career as an elementary school teacher of Mathematics and English at the Ludwig Van Beethoven Elementary School in Chicago (Illinois). The family 1st resided in Woodlawn and later the Morgan Park neighborhoods.
Mae Jemison knew from a young age that she wanted to study science and someday travel into space. Mae Jemison loved and enjoyed studying human physiology and nature, employing her observations to learn more about science. Her mother encouraged her curiosity, and both her parents were supportive of Mae’s interest in science. However, Mae Jemison didn’t see the same support from her teachers.
Mae Jemison started studying ballet at nine or eight and entered high school at twelve years old, where she joined the Modern Dance Club and the cheerleading team. Mae Jemison had a great love and interest for dance from an early age. Mae Jemison learned various dance styles, including Japanese, African, jazz, and modern or contemporary dance. As a child, Mae Jemison had aspirations of becoming a great and professional dancer.
At the age of fourteen, Mae Jemison auditioned for Maria’s leading role in ‘West Side Story.’ She didn’t get the leading role but became a background dancer. After graduating from Chicago’s Morgan Park High Scholl way back in 1973, Mae Jemison joined Stanford University at sixteen. At Stanford University, Mae Jemison served as head of the Black Students Union. Mae Jemison choreographed dance and musical production known as ‘Out of the Shadows.’ During Mae’s senior year in college, she was in a dilemma of choosing between going to medical school or going after a career as a professional dancer after graduation. Mae Jemison graduated from Stanford University in 1977. While at Stanford University, Mae Jemison also pursued studies related to her childhood interest in space.
The Medical Career of Mae Jemison
Mae Jemison went to Cornell Medical School. During her training, she went to Cuba to conduct a study that the American Medical Student Association funded and later went to Thailand, where she worked at a Cambodian refugee camp. Mae Jemison also worked for Flying Doctors stationed in the East African region. During her years at Cornell Medical School, Mae Jemison continued to study dance by joining or enrolling in classes at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. After successfully graduating with an M.D. degree in 1981, Mae Jemison interned at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center the next year (1982) and worked as a general practitioner for Ross-Loos Medical Group.
As mentioned earlier, Mae Jemison joined the Peace Corps staff in 1983 and served as a medical officer for two years. Mae Jemison supervised the Peace Corps, lab, pharmacy, medical staff, providing medical care, writing self-care manuals, and implementing and developing guidelines for safety and health issues. Mae Jemison also worked with the Centers for Disease Control, aiding with research for several vaccines.
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The NASA Career of Mae Jemison (STS-47 and Resignation from NASA)
Upon returning to the U.S. after serving in the Peace Corps, Mae Jemison settled in L.A., California. In LA, Mae Jemison entered into private practice and took graduate-level engineering courses. Mae Jemison tried applying to NASA’s astronaut training program in October 1985, but NASA pushed forward the selection of new candidates after the Space Shuttle Challenger tragedy in 1986. Mae Jemison reapplied the following year, and NASA chose her out of the 2000 applicants to be one of the 15 people in the NASA Astronaut Group 12. Before her shuttle launch, Mae Jemison’s work with NASA included launch support works at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and confirmation of Shuttle computer software in the SAIL. SAIL stands for Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory. On September 28th, 1989, she joined the STS-47 crew as Mission Specialist 4.
Mae Jemison flew her only space mission from September 12th to 20th, as stated above, on STS-47, a cooperative mission between Japan and the United States, and the 50th shuttle mission. Mae Jemison logged 190 hours, 30 minutes, 23s in space and orbited the planet more than 120 times. The crew was in two shifts, with Mae Jemison being on the Blue Shift. Mae Jemison took a poster from the Alvin Ailey American Dance along with her on the flight. Mae also too a West African statuette and a picture of pioneering aviator Bessie Coleman.
Aboard the Spacelab Japan module, Mae Jemison tested NASA’S Fluid Therapy System, a set of equipment and procedures to produce water for injection. Mae then used IV bags and a mixing method to use the water from the earlier step to produce a saline solution in space.
Mae Jemison was a co-investigator of two bone cell research trials. In another trial, Mae Jemison participated in inducing female frogs to ovulate, fertilize the eggs, and see how tadpoles developed in 0 gravity.
After Jemison’s return to Earth, she resigned from NASA in March 1993, intending to commence her firm or company.
Post-NASA Career Life
Mae Jemison served on the board of directors of the World Sickle Cell Foundation from 1990-1992. In 1993, Mae Jemison founded the Jemison Group Inc, a consulting company or firm which considers the socio-cultural impact of technological design and advancements. Mae Jemison also founded the Dorothy Jemison Foundation for Excellence and named the foundation in honor of her mum. The Dorothy Jemison Foundation sponsors other programs and events, including the Shaping the World essay competition, Listening to the Future, Earth Online, and the Reality Leads Fantasy Gala.
Mae Jemison was a professor of environmental studies at Dartmouth College from 1995-2002, where she directed the Jemison Institute for Advancing Technology in Developing Countries. In 1999, Mae Jemison also became an Andrew D. White professor-at-large at Cornell University.
Mae Jemison is a participant or member of several scientific organizations such as the American Medical Association, the Association of Space Explorers, the American Chemical Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 1999, Mae Jemison founded BioSentient Corp and got the license to commercialize AFTE.
In 2018, she worked with National 4-H Council and Bayer Crop Science for the initiative called Science Matters, which aimed to encourage children to comprehend and pursue agricultural sciences.
The Personal Life and Story of Mae Jemison
Mae Jemison established a dance studio in her home and has produced and choreographed various shows of African dance and contemporary jazz. In 1996, Mae Jemison filed a complaint against a Texas police officer, accusing him of police brutality during a traffic stop that ended in her apprehension or arrest. Nassau Bay police officer Henry Hughes pulled Mae Jemison over for allegedly making a prohibited or illegal U-turn and arrested her after the officer learned of an outstanding warrant on Mae Jemison for a speeding ticket.
In the process of arresting Mae Jemison, the police officer twisted Mae’s wrist and forced her to the ground, and having her walk barefooted from the patrol vehicle into the station. Later, Mae Jemison said that the police officer mistreated her emotionally and physically. Mae Jemison filed a lawsuit against the city of Nassau Bay and the police officer.
The Honors and Awards of Mae Jemison
Mae Jemison has several awards. Some of them include the 1988 Essence Science and Technology Award, 1992 she got the Ebony Black Achievement Award, and 1993-Kilby Science Award and Turner Trumpet Award. In 2017 Mae Jemison received the Buzz Aldrin Space Pioneer Award. Two years later (2019), she got the Florida Southern College Honorary Chancellor.