EXCLUSIVE: 49ers honor Bay Area-native astronaut, 1st indigenous woman in space

Dan Noyes Image
Monday, January 8, 2024
EXCLUSIVE: 49ers honor local astronaut, 1st indigenous woman in space
The San Francisco 49ers honored Colonel Nicole Mann, a US Marine Corps combat fighter who is also the first indigenous woman from NASA to go to space.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (KGO) -- The San Francisco 49ers honored Colonel Nicole Mann, a very special local hero on Sunday. Mann is a U.S. Marine Corps combat fighter who is also the first indigenous woman from NASA to go to space, commanding a mission to the International Space Station.

Mann is also on the shortlist to become the first woman to walk on the moon, during the NASA Artemis-Three space flight scheduled for 2025.

ABC7's Dan Noyes interviewed Colonel Nicole Mann at the game.

MORE: Astronaut Nicole Aunapu Mann set to become 1st Native American woman in space

NICOLE MANN: "So I was born in Petaluma, California, just north of the city. I went to school at Rancho Cotati High School in Rohnert Park. After there, I went to Annapolis United States Naval Academy in Maryland. I knew I wanted to serve in the military, and I was interested in engineering. And so that was a great tool for both of those. After that I went to grad school, back here in California at Stanford University, and then off the flight school in the Marine Corps."

"I got my wings and learned to fly the F-18, which is a Hornet, and did two combat deployments off the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise in Iraq and Afghanistan."

DAN NOYES: "What's more exciting, your first landing on a carrier or blast off on SpaceX?"

NICOLE MANN: "Both are so exciting, both were beginnings, new chapters in my life. I was the commander of Crew Five and that's a SpaceX spacecraft. We launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida to the International Space Station, where my crew and I spent 157 days in orbit around our planet, where we conducted over 250 science experiments, seven spacewalks outside the door, a ton of outreach events and upgrades to the space station. It was an incredible experience, an incredible view of our planet from outer space."

"So I was fortunate enough to be the first indigenous woman in space."

"I am part of the Wailaki tribe, which is part of the Round Valley Indian tribes in Northern California. That's very important, I think, that we look back at our heritage and our past, I think about where we came from. Thank all of the elders and the people that paved the way to make these opportunities for us, and then reach back to those communities because although we are breaking down barriers every day, there are still barriers that children face and we need to help them overcome those challenges."

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