On 19 January, NASA released a notice where it notified that the Serena Aunon-Chancellor would replace Jeanette Epps, to board the International Space Station. NASA gave no explanation about the replacement.
According to a report by The Washington Post, Jeannette Epps who was going to become the first African-American astronaut to board the International Space Station for long-term was asked to continue with her duties at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
While Epps did not comment about the replacement, her brother Henry Epps has accused NASA of racism. He reportedly accused NASA of allowing a “Caucasian Astronaut” to take his sister’s place who had been working for years to fight racism.
Meanwhile, he has also put up a petition on the internet which said, “Demand NASA to return Dr Jeanette Epps Back To ISS Mission!!!”
Jeannette has reportedly refused to be attached to her brother’s petition.
This is not the first time that NASA has removed an astronaut. In 2009, Ken Mattingly was exposed to German measles and had taken no immunity for it. He was replaced by another astronaut for the Apollo 13 and had to be removed from the expedition.
But unlike Mattingly, Epps said that she had no medical condition that would keep her out of the ISS.
Aunon-Chancellor who was supposed to go on Expedition 58/59 would be going for 56/57 which was initially assigned to Epps.