Brother of CNY native astronaut bumped from NASA mission creates petition to reinstate her

In this Sept. 16, 2014 photo provided by NASA, astronaut Jeanette Epps participates in a spacewalk training session at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. In June 2018, Epps was supposed to be the first African-American to live on the International Space Station, but on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018, NASA announced it was pulling her off the mission for undisclosed reasons. (Robert Markowitz/NASA via AP)

The brother of a Syracuse-born astronaut who was bumped from a NASA spacflight mission last week has created a moveon.org petition to have her put back on it.

Henry Epps, also originally from Syracuse, created the petition for her sister, Dr. Jeanette Epps, who was removed from her mission to the International Space Station just before launch. She was to have been the first African American astronaut assigned to the space station crew. In a Facebook post sharing the link to the petition, Henry Epps said the incident was a racial move.

"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!" Epp said in the post. "My sister deserve a chance just like 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 nation! Take a stand and sign the petition!"

Jeannette Epps was born in Syracuse and 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.

According to her brother's petition, NASA has offered no reason for the decision to remove Epps from the Expedition 56/57 mission. She was supposed to rocket away in early June, and would have been the first African-American to live on the International Space Station. African-Americans have visited the space station, but Epps would have been the first to live there.

Late Thursday, NASA announced it was pulling Epps off the mission. She said in a statement that she would "return to NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston to assume duties in the Astronaut Office."

Her replacement, Serena Auñón-Chancellor, is a medical doctor from Fort Collins, Colorado. Auñón-Chancellor previously spent more than nine months in Russia supporting medical operations for space station crew members.

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