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NASA astronaut from Syracuse is ready for liftoff

(Oct. 4, 2023) — Official SpaceX Crew-8 portrait with Roscosmos cosmonaut and Mission Specialist Aleksandr Grebenkin, and Pilot Michael Barratt, Commander Matthew Dominick, and Mission Specialist Jeanette Epps, all three NASA astronauts.
Bill Stafford
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NASA
(Oct. 4, 2023) — Official SpaceX Crew-8 portrait with Roscosmos cosmonaut and Mission Specialist Aleksandr Grebenkin, and Pilot Michael Barratt, Commander Matthew Dominick, and Mission Specialist Jeanette Epps, all three NASA astronauts.

A Syracuse Native has an out-of-this-world opportunity — she's headed to space next month in February.

NASA Astronaut Jeanette Epps was originally set to go to space in 2018 but the crew lineup changed before the launch. But she said she kept her spirits up.

"It has been a number a years but I was confident I would fly," Epps said. "The way that I kept my spirits up was we continue to train weekly, daily. We train vigorously for any mission that we're assigned to. So I've been pretty busy over the last few years still training, still working toward the goal of going to the space station."

Epps is part of NASA's SpaceX Crew-8 Mission and she will spend half a year on the International Space Station. One of the items she plans to bring with her is a photo of her mom.

"I was selected in June 2009 and five days after I was selected, my mom passed away," Epps said. "But I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for her and her work ethic and her emphasis on education growing up. So she was a big part of the reason that I'm here."

Epps earned a Bachelor of Science in Physics from LeMoyne College before getting her Ph.D. in aerospace engineering at the University of Maryland.

The Crew-8 mission will be conducting research to prepare for human exploration beyond low Earth orbit and benefit humanity on Earth. According to NASA, some experiments include studying the effects of microgravity and UV radiation on plants at a cellular level and testing whether pressure cuff on the legs could prevent fluid shifts and reduce health problems for astronauts.

Ava Pukatch joined the WRVO news team in September 2022. She previously reported for WCHL in Chapel Hill, NC and earned a degree in Journalism and Media from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At UNC, Ava was a Stembler Scholar and a reporter and producer for the award-winning UNC Hussman broadcast Carolina Connection. In her free time, Ava enjoys theatre, coffee and cheering on Tar Heel sports. Find her on Twitter @apukatch.