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Dr. Sian Proctor Becomes First Black Woman to Pilot a spacecraft after SpaceX’s Inspiration4 Mission

Sian Proctor, NASA astronaut. (Photo: Inspiration 4/Via Reuters)

Dr Sian Proctor has become the first Black woman to pilot a spacecraft after SpaceX’s Inspiration4 Mission successfully launched into space on Wednesday, September 15.

Proctor, a geoscientist, artist, and science communicator, was one of four people in the first-ever all-civilian spaceflight, serving as a mission pilot on Inspiration4. She made history as the fourth Black woman to travel into space and the first Black woman to pilot a spacecraft with the three-day trip circling the earth, the New York Times reports.

Dr. Proctor, who is African American and holds a doctorate in science education, had come close to becoming an astronaut the old-fashioned way. She said that in 2009, she was among 47 finalists whom NASA selected from 3,500 applications. The space agency chose nine new astronauts that year. Dr. Proctor was not one of them.

She applied twice more and was not even among the finalists.

She still pursued her space dreams in other ways. In 2013, Dr. Proctor was one of six people who lived for four months in a small building on the side of a Hawaiian volcano, part of an effort financed by NASA to study the isolation and stresses of a long trip to Mars.

She is the pilot on the Inspiration4 mission, the first Black woman to serve as the pilot of a spacecraft.


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