The brother of Black astronaut Jeanette Epps claims racism is why his sister got booted from the International Space Station mission.
If Epps made it for the June mission in her designated role as a flight engineer, she would have been the first African American crew member on the International Space Station.
Last week, NASA announced that they Epps would not be on the mission and offered no explanation.
NASA Statement Excerpt:
“Serena Auñón-Chancellor, who previously was assigned to Expedition 58/59, has been reassigned to the Expedition 56/57 crew, launching in June. She is taking the place of astronaut Jeanette Epps, who will return to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston to assume duties in the Astronaut Office and be considered for assignment to future missions.”
A NASA spokesperson told Newsweek that this circumstance involves “personnel matters for which NASA doesn’t provide information.”
Epps’ brother Henry Epps was not pleased with that lack of explanation and took to social media to advocate for his sister. In a since deleted Facebook post, Henry Epps says racism is to blame for his sister not going on the mission.
“My sister Dr. Jeannette Epps has been fighting against oppressive racism and misogynist in NASA and now they are holding her back and allowing a Caucasian Astronaut to take her place!”
The protective brother went on to take aim at the Trump administration for enabling racist and sexist environments.
“My sister deserve a chance just life [sic] her white peers! This administration policies and culture is reprehensible against their stance against women and minorities in this nation. We have lost all of the gains we gained over the past 40 years in one year? No more. We cannot continue to tolerate what is going on in America but we must stand together and stand behind our people and out [sic] nation!”
Henry Epps included a link to a MoveOn.org petition that demands NASA put Epps back on the International Space Station mission.
The petition highlights Epps’ resume and implores NASA to reverse its decision.
“Jeanette Epps, born in Syracuse, completed a doctorate in aerospace engineering in 2000. After graduating, she worked in a laboratory for two years before being recruited by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
“She worked as a technical intelligence officer for seven years before being selected as a member of Nasa’s 2009 astronaut class. Her time with the CIA included deployments to Iraq.”
The petition has more than 800 signatures. Jeanette Epps has made no statement about NASA changing her duties.