Sian Proctor Is the First Black Woman to Pilot a Spacecraft

The community college professor has long pursued her dream of being an astronaut.,


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Sian Proctor is the first Black woman to pilot a spacecraft.

Sian Proctor was a finalist to be a NASA astronaut, but was not selected. She was invited to join the Inspiration4 mission.Credit…Inspiration 4/Via Reuters

Sept. 16, 2021, 7:41 p.m. ET

Sian Proctor, 51, is a community college professor from Tempe, Ariz.

Dr. Proctor, who is African American and holds a doctorate in science education, had come close to becoming an astronaut the old-fashioned way. She said that in 2009, she was among 47 finalists whom NASA selected from 3,500 applications. The space agency chose nine new astronauts that year. Dr. Proctor was not one of them.

She applied twice more and was not even among the finalists.

She still pursued her space dreams in other ways. In 2013, Dr. Proctor was one of six people who lived for four months in a small building on the side of a Hawaiian volcano, part of an effort financed by NASA to study the isolation and stresses of a long trip to Mars.

She is the pilot on the Inspiration4 mission, the first Black woman to serve as the pilot of a spacecraft.

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