Why This Trailblazing Astronaut Never Dreamed Of Going To Space

Mae Jemison made history in 1992 when she rocketed into orbit aboard NASA’s Space Shuttle Endeavor, becoming the first African-American woman to go into space. And while the physician-turned-astronaut left the space agency the following year, she hasn’t abandoned her interest in spaceflight or in science more generally.

Jemison, 58, has become an outspoken proponent of diversity in science, technology, engineering and math education, arguing that it’s “bulltwinky” to suggest that women and minorities aren’t good enough to make it in those fields.

She doesn’t just talk STEM — she lives it. Jemison is heading up the 100 Year Starship program, which aims to develop the technologies that will enable human interstellar travel. In addition, she’s working as a spokesperson for Bayer’s Making Science Make Sense initiative, which fosters science literacy among students through hands-on demonstrations and volunteer speakers. And she’s helped publicize the results of Bayer’s Facts of Science Education survey, which she hopes will help move STEM education forward.

Jemison recently spoke with The Huffington Post about the origins of her interest in space, the surprising twists and turns of her career and why she’ll never fulfill her dream of being a singer.

Did you always dream of being an astronaut?

I’m going to say no, but not because of the reason you think. I always assumed I’d go into space, but I did not assume I’d have to be a crew member … When I was growing up, during the Apollo era, I thought that by the time I was old enough to have a job like that, I’d just be a scientist working on Mars. I didn’t dream I’d go to space — I assumed I would, which sounds a little arrogant, especially growing up in the ’60s as a young girl, a young African-American, a —> Read More