Mae Jemison

  • Mae Jemison in 1992
    Credit: NASA
    Name: Mae Carol Jemison
  • Born: 17th October 1956
  • Nationality: USA
  • Occupation: astronaut, engineer, physician, professor
  • Time in space: 190 hours, 30 minutes, 23 seconds

Mae was the first African-American woman to travel to space, when she went into orbit on board the space shuttle Endeavour in September 1992. She originally wanted to be a dancer, but her mother persuaded her to follow her other passion, medicine, since she could dance in her spare time.

She studied science at school. Watching the Apollo missions, Mae grew frustrated that there were no female astronauts. She pursued science, going to university aged 16 to study chemical engineering. At university, she says she was often ignored, as the only African-American woman in the class. This only made her more determined to achieve.

Mae went on to become a medical officer in the Peace Corps, before applying to the astronaut program. She was inspired by the African-American actress Nichelle Nichols, who played Lieutenant Uhura in Star Trek. Since returning from space, she appeared in an episode of Star Trek: Next Generation, alongside many other TV appearances.