Mae Jemison

Mae Jemison
Mae Jemison
Credit: NASA

Occupation: Astronaut

Year born: 1956

Research Areas: Chemical Engineering, Medicine


"Never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations… You can hear other people’s wisdom, but you’ve got to re-evaluate the world for yourself."

Source: Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students, Nov 2009


Early Life

Mae was born in Alabama but grew up in Chicago in the USA. Mae grew up watching the NASA Apollo missions, growing frustrated that there were no female astronauts. This led her to want to study science and go to space. At 16, she started university studying chemical engineering and African studies. She then went back to university to get a medical degree.

Career Highlights

Mae was a doctor in the Peace Corps, working in both Liberia and Sierra Leone. Mae was the first African-American woman to travel to space in 1992. She went into orbit on the space shuttle Endeavour and spent almost eight days orbiting the Earth. After her space mission, she left NASA and set up several companies focussing on technology, science, education and health care. She is keen to support people from minority groups to pursue education.


Mae has been given many awards, including being added to the National Women’s Hall of Fame. She has written several children’s books. She leads the '100 Year Starship' project, which aims to make human space travel to another star possible in the next 100 years.

Other Interests

Mae loves dancing and wanted to be a dancer when she was younger before going into engineering. She is also a huge Star Trek fan and appeared on the show following her return to Earth! She can speak Russian, Japanese and Swahili alongside English