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BLACK SPACE WEEK: THE RISE OF THE BLACK COMMUNITY IN THE SPACE INDUSTRY

BY FIG O'REILLY                                                                  June 26, 2025
NASA astronauts, Victor J. Glover, Jr., Jessica Watkins, Yvonne Cagle, Ed Dwight, Leland Melvin, and Joan Higginbotham,

Each year, Black Space Week celebrates the achievements of Black Americans in the space industry. To kick-off Black Space Week, originally founded by Black in Astro President Ashley Walker, NASA collaborated with the National Space Council for the Beyond the Color Lines: From Science Fiction to Science Fact forum Monday, June 17th. The event took place at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

This was my first Black Space Week, and I was looking forward to the opportunity of hearing firsthand from astronauts about experiencing the Overview Effect and thoughts on the changing landscape of the space industry. With NASA’s Artemis missions to the moon coming up and citizen astronaut space travel on the rise, I was curious to hear discussions about big questions like What’s Next? and Where does the community fit into broader conversations?

Astronauts, private-sector and government agency leadership, space industry professionals, thought-leaders, and STEM advocates from around the country descended upon the capital city for a series of talks including the Standing on the Shoulders of Giants panel and HERStory, a talk sharing the untold stories of Black women leaders in space, diplomacy, arts, and business. For the latter conversation, my friend Aisha Bowe, soon-to-be the first Black woman to fly to space with Boeing and fellow lover of pink suits, joined the stage to share her journey from studying engineering at the University of Michigan to the stars.

Current and former NASA astronauts, Victor J. Glover, Jr., Jessica Watkins, Yvonne Cagle, Ed Dwight, Leland Melvin, and Joan Higginbotham, join former administrator of NASA, the Honorable Charles F. Bolden to discuss the past, present, and future of space exploration.

With Ed Dwight, NASA’s 1st Black astronaut candidate.

For me, the power of representation was on display. Black Space Week is in it’s 3rd year, and has already garnered support and partnership from The White House, NASA, and heavy hitting private-sector organizations helping to define the next era of space. Historically, Black contributions to space-related fields have often gone overlooked. The rapid growth of Black Space Week not only highlights Black contributions but facilitates discussions about the future of space travel, exploration, and research.

@figoreilly

Nbd just making friends w/astronauts 🤭😎😮‍💨 #blackspaceweek #nasa #astronaut #space

♬ Truth or Dare – Tyla

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