When she was a very little girl, Mae Jemison’s family moved with her from their home in Decatur, Alabama to Chicago, Illinois because they were following her parents’ dream of making a better life for themselves. From then on, Mae always believed in following her dreams.
Boy, did she have big dreams!
She always thought she’d like to fly, maybe even go to outer space. When she was nine years old, she was a dancer because she loved the way she could make herself feel like she was floating across the stage. It was almost like what she thought being in space would feel like.
By the time she’d grown up enough to be in high school, she was still dancing, but she was also exploring biomedical engineering – understanding how the body works so you can make new devices and medicines to help it work better.
It was very difficult for her to decide whether she wanted to go on to become a doctor or to pursue her love of dance. It was a hard choice. Jemison loved being involved in a lot of things, especially when it came to science and dance. Eventually, she decided to become a doctor, but that isn’t where her story ends.
After serving the Peace Corps as a doctor for a little while, Jemison came back home and decided to finally pursue her dream of going to space. On June 4, 1987, she became the first African-American woman to be admitted into NASA’s astronaut training program. She flew into space on September 12, 1992 with six other astronauts. More than 2,000 had applied to go, but she was selected.
She spent about eight days in space learning more about weightlessness and motion sickness, helping us know how to deal with motion sickness down here on the planet. If you’ve ever felt sick in a car, plane, or boat, and Mommy gave you medicine that made you feel better, you should think about Dr. Jemison and be glad that NASA let a woman go to space.