Native American National Aeronautics and Space Administration astronaut Nicole Mann is part of the crew preparing to launch a U.S. commercial spacecraft to the International Space Station by the end of September.
This will be Mann’s first spaceflight since becoming an astronaut in 2013.
Mann is the NASA SpaceX Crew-5 spacecraft commander.
“I will fly myself and three other crewmates. We will launch from Kennedy Space Center in a dragon spacecraft, which is built by SpaceX. We will take a day or so to get to the International Space Station and we’ll stay on board for about six months to execute our mission. Our spacecraft will stay attached the entire time and then at the end of the mission we’ll come back home and we’ll splash down off the coast of Florida.”
The team will conduct more than 200 scientific experiments during the mission.
“Some of those are technology demonstration to help us further human exploration a lot of them are scientific investigations and research to benefit humans back on earth. So, because the space station is in microgravity there’s a lot of things we can do that that you simply can’t do on earth.”
Mann is Wailacki of the Round Valley Indian Tribes in California and says she’s proud to represent Native people.
“I think your background and your heritage is an important part of who you are and your family and the community that brought you up. I think it’s also important to then share with our communities, what amazing things our people we grew up with are executing, and what they’re doing. Hopefully there are some young Native kids that are looking and see what amazing things, amazing opportunities that they have in front of them, and a lot of those barriers that used to exist are being broken down.”
Mann is responsible for all phases of flight from launch to re-entry. She’ll serve as an Expedition 68 flight engineer aboard the station.
Mann has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy and a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford University.
She’s a colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps and served as a test pilot in the F/A-18 Hornet and Super Hornet.
The public can follow the SpaceX Crew-5 Mission at nasa.gov.
The Pueblo of Isleta in New Mexico recently celebrated Miguel Trujillo Day to honor the Pueblo civil rights leader.
The Marine veteran and school teacher fought for Native voting rights in the 1940s after he attempted to register to vote and was refused.
The New Mexico Constitution held that “Indians not taxed” could not vote. Trujillo filed a federal lawsuit, which he won on August 3, 1948.
The court ruled New Mexico discriminated against Indians by restricting voting on the basis they paid state and federal taxes, but not private property tax on reservations. Trujillo set a precedent for the future of Native voting rights, which the Isleta Pueblo Voters Alliance continues to reflect on today.
“It’s just a beautiful story and it’s just refreshing now at this current day that we’ve had those leaders in place and we continue to have those types of Native leaders to amplify the voices of our people.”
Janice Lucero is a voting rights advocate and community organizer.
“Native folks and Indigenous communities are starting to step up to the table. We are starting to fight for what we know and that is our land, that is our water, that is our body and the more we get out to vote, we can be those change makers.”
Lucero says the alliance works on voter registration, voter education and advocates to get out the Native vote.
“There has to be a shift. There has to be a shift in how we vote, how we speak up, getting out there being educated. Do the research folks, find out who you align with, the values that’s so important do they align with your values? It’s important that we know those people are advocating for us. We don’t want outside people coming in and trying to take over and have their own agenda. Indigenous people have been here for years and we have our own agenda and that’s with the land and that’s with each other.”
The Isleta Pueblo Voters Alliance was founded by community members in 2020. The alliance co-hosted the event with the Pueblo of Isleta, Pueblo of Isleta Veterans Association, and the New Mexico Humanities Council.
Get National Native News delivered to your inbox daily. Sign up for our newsletter today.