Jeanette Epps, who was celebrated a year ago as the first African-American crew member scheduled to go on the International Space Station, was pulled off the team and will not be a part of the June launch, according to a statement from NASA released late Thursday evening.
Serena Auñón-Chancellor, who’s been with the agency since 2006, has been reassigned to the Expedition 56/57 crew and will serve as Epp’s replacement.
Epps has been asked to return to the Astronaut Office at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston,and the agency said she will “be considered for assignment to future missions,” the statement said. NASA did not offer an explanation for her reassignment.
Auñón-Chancellor, who is certified in internal and aerospace medicine, started as a flight surgeon for NASA and worked in Russia, Ukraine, and also as deputy lead for medical operations for NASA’s Orion spacecraft.
Auñón-Chancellor became a part of the astronaut corps in 2009.
The Colorado native has an electrical engineering degree from George Washington University, a master’s degree in public health from the University of Texas Medical Branch and a doctorate in medicine from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.
Epps first became an astronaut with NASA in 2009. She was a NASA fellow during graduate school, but worked for the Central Intelligence Agency for seven years before joining the space agency.
The Syracue, New York native graduated with a physics degree from LeMoyne College, a master of science degree in aerospace engineering and a doctorate of philosophy in aerospace engineering from the University of Maryland.
“I spent 11 and a half years in school beyond high school to get where I am today, “said Epps during a 2015 program at Space Center Houston for middle school students. “I want to encourage you to take a course in STEM and build a foundation for yourself. Even if you don’t end up where I am, it’s a great place to get a feel for what’s out there. Get involved. I never thought I’d get here, but here I am.”