Jeannette Epps qualified as a NASA astronaut in 2011. Her training included extensive Russian, spacewalk and robotics training, and geology, T-38 jet training and leadership.
In 2017, NASA announced that Epps would be a flight engineer on the International Space Station for Expeditions 56 and 57, the first African American space station crew member, the first African American to launch aboard the Russian Soyuz vehicle, and the 15th African American to fly in space. But on January 16, 2018, NASA announced that Epps had been replaced by her backup Serena M. Auñón-Chancellor, but that Epps would “be considered for assignment to future missions”. The reason for Epps’ removal was not stated, and NASA spokesperson Brandi Dean said, “These decisions are personnel matters for which NASA doesn’t provide information.”