NASA couldn’t offer a detailed reason on why Jeanette Epps was abruptly pulled from an upcoming mission to space, but the astronaut’s brother has one: “Oppressive racism and misogyny” are to blame for the agency’s decision to stop her from being the first Black astronaut to go to the International Space Station, Henry Epps said.
“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!” Henry Epps wrote on Facebook over the weekend.
The astronaut’s brother was urging NASA to reinstate his sister to the mission and allow her to make history, according to a MoveOn.org petition he posted to his Facebook page. Jeanette Epps would’ve been the first African-American to become a crew member on the ISS.
“We have lost all of the gains we gained over the past 40 years in one year? No more!” he said. “We cannot continue to tolerate what is going on in America but we must stand together and stand behind our people and ou(r) nation! Take a stand and sign the petition!”
It was not clear from Epps’ post whether he had spoken to his sister about why she was removed from the mission.
NASA officials have declined to describe why she was passed over, saying it is a “personnel matter.”
Epps was part of NASA 20th astronaut class, announced in 2009. She was one of nine selected out of 3,500 applicants. Epps had been assigned to serve as flight engineer for Expedition 56 and remained on board for Expedition 57, according to NASA.
The crew is set to go to the ISS in June and spend at least six months in space.
The administration announced that Serena Aunon-Chancellor, who previously was assigned to Expedition 58/59, was reassigned to the ISS mission.