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Jeanette Epps. M.S. '94, Ph.D '00 (below, pictured in crew capsule) is part of a NASA-Space X crew of three American astronauts and one Russian cosmonaut that lifted off late Sunday night from Kennedy Space Center for a six-month mission on the International Space Station.Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images

Jeanette Epps. M.S. '94, Ph.D '00 (below, pictured in crew capsule) is part of a NASA-Space X crew of three American astronauts and one Russian cosmonaut that lifted off late Sunday night from Kennedy Space Center for a six-month mission on the International Space Station.Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images

 

This article first appeared in Maryland Today.

A University of Maryland alumna is more or less unpacking the moving van and settling into her new apartment … except in this case the vehicle is a NASA Dragon space capsule and the new digs are 250 miles high and hurtling around the Earth at 17,000 mph.

Astronaut Jeanette Epps M.S. '94, Ph.D. '00 had been a space resident for less than two days of her six-month mission when she spoke to Maryland Today writer Annie Krakower on Wednesday about experiencing the joys—and learning the ropes—of life in orbit.

“I’m still in awe of seeing the Earth from the vantage point we had from the Dragon vehicle as we were approaching the International Space Station,” said Epps, an aerospace engineer serving as a mission specialist on the ISS. “You can see it in pictures, you can even dream about those pictures, but there’s just something that happens when you see it with your own eyes.”

In addition to moving in (and helping the departing crew pack its own Dragon for the trip home), Epps is also learning how to float around the football field-sized satellite without bumping her head, getting acquainted with the “waste hygiene compartment,” aka, zero-gravity bathroom, and dealing with a “puffy face” while her body acclimates to having no real up or down.

What’s her favorite thing to do on the station so far? Pulling up a figurative “chair” in the ISS kitchen area and enjoying the company of fellow astronauts as she prepares to start overseeing experiments sent to the station by researchers back on Earth. “We’re basically the hands and eyes of all these scientists,” she said.

Check out full interview below.



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March 7, 2024


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