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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Former astronaut now delves into technology

Mae Jemison
Mae Jemison

By Gary Collins/reporter

Mae Jemison
Mae Jemison

The sky was the limit for doctor, businesswoman and astronaut, Mae Jemison, who joined NASA in 1987.

Born in Decatur, Ala, in 1956, Jemison graduated from Chicago’s Morgan Park High School in 1973. She attended Stanford University, where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering. Jemison also attended Cornell University, earning a doctorate in medicine.

Living in 1960s Chicago had its disadvantages. When she was 12, then Mayor Richard Daley sent National Guard soldiers into the neighborhood responding to demonstrations.

“ I was as much a part of the United States as the Guardsmen,” she said in an article from Facts.com Today’s Science.

According to Jemison in a Facts.com Today’s Science article, when her kindergarten teacher asked what she wanted to do when she grew up, she replied she wanted to be a scientist. Her teacher attempted to correct her saying, “Don’t you mean a nurse?” But, no, Jemison meant a scientist.

The Dartmouth College professor loves science fiction and non-fiction books on the universe. The Arm of the Starfish and A Wrinkle in Time are among of her favorite books.

“ Those books stand out because they had women scientists and girl heroines,” Jemison said in the Facts.com Today’s Science article.

In 1985 while working as a general practitioner in Los Angeles, she first applied to NASA as an astronaut candidate but was turned down.

After being selected for the astronaut-training program in 1987, Jemison flew as mission specialist on the shuttle Endeavour in September 1992, becoming the first black woman to travel into orbit.

The joint U.S.-Japanese eight-day mission orbited earth 127 times and conducted 44 life science and materials processing experiments. Jemison served as the co-investigator on a bone cell research experiment. Her first space flight totaled 190 hours, 30 minutes and 23 seconds, according to her biography on NASA.gov.

While at NASA, Jemison worked in launch support activities and in the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory. By the time Jemison left NASA in March 1993, she had spent a total of seven days, 22 hours, and 30 minutes in orbit.

After leaving NASA, Jemison created The Jemison Group, which implements, creates and develops technologies appropriate for individuals in developing countries.

Outside of work Jemison enjoys photography, skiing, weight training, dancing and languages, including Russian, Japanese and Swahili.

Her inspiration for going to NASA was Lt. Commander Uhura on the original Star Trek series. Jemison made a cameo appearance on its spin-off Star Trek: the Next Generation on episode “Second Chances” in 1993 as Lt. Palmer.

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