In a recent shakeup, NASA announced Jeanette Epps — who was on track to become the first African-American International Space Station (ISS) crew member — will no longer be a part of the June mission.
On Thursday, NASA announced a rearrangement in their lineup and Epps would be replaced by Serena Auñón-Chancellor.
Although it remains unclear why Epps was bumped from the mission, NASA said it is “personnel matters for which NASA doesn’t provide information,” spokesperson Stephanie Schierholz said in an email to Newsweek.
However, Epps’ brother, Henry Epps, has said racism is the reason for the decision.
“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!” Henry Epps wrote in a Facebook post, which is no longer available.
Epps was training in Russia to travel to the space station with a German and Russian. NASA spokeswoman Brandi Dean said Friday it was a decision by NASA, not the Russian Space Agency, reported ABC News.
Henry Epps included a MoveOn.org petition in his Facebook post calling for NASA to reassign his sister to the mission. Although Epps’ brother didn’t start the petition, he and other family members signed it and spread the word, according to NYup.com.
Epps will return to Houston and work at the agency’s Johnson Space Center. She’ll also be considered for future space missions, NASA announced in a statement.
(Photo: STR/AFP/Getty Images)