NASA Just Picked These Astronauts to Fly in Space in 2018

NASA has picked new American astronauts to visit the International Space Station in 2018.
NASA has picked new American astronauts to visit the International Space Station in 2018. (Image credit: NASA)

Two American astronauts, one a spaceflight veteran and the other a rookie, will launch to the International Space Station in 2018, NASA announced today (Jan. 4). 

NASA astronaut Andrew Feustel. (Image credit: NASA)

Veteran NASA astronaut Andrew Feustel and first-time flyer Jeanette Epps will each visit the space station next year as part of the Expedition 55-56 and Expedition 56-57 crews, NASA officials announced in a statement. Feustel will launch to station in March of 2018 as an Expedition 55 flight engineer, then take command of the station's Expedition 56 crew a few months later. Epps, meanwhile, will launch to the station in May 2018 as an Expedition 56 flight engineer and then stay on during the Expedition 57 mission.

Feustel is from Lake Orion, Michigan and a veteran of two NASA space shuttle missions. He joined NASA's astronaut corps in 2000 and flew aboard Atlantis on STS-125, the last mission to the Hubble Space Telescope, in 2009. Feustel returned to space in 2011 on STS-134, the final flight of the shuttle Endeavour. which visited the International Space Station. He has degrees in Earth sciences and geophysics (from Purdue University) and a doctorate in geological sciences from Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario in Canada. 

NASA astronaut Jeanette Epps. (Image credit: NASA)

Epps is from Syracuse, New York and will make spaceflight history during her Expedition 56-57 mission when she becomes the first African-American crewmember of an International Space Station expedition. She will join Feustel during the Expedition 56 phase of her flight. 

Epps joined NASA's astronaut ranks in 2009 after serving seven years as a technical intelligence officer with the Central Intelligence Agency. Before joining the CIA, Epps earned a bachelor's degree in physics from LeMoyne College in Syracuse, followed by a master's of science (in 1994) and doctorate (in 2000) in aerospace engineering.

"Each space station crew brings something different to the table, and Drew and Jeanette both have a lot to offer," NASA Chief Astronaut Chris Cassidy at the agency's Johnson Space Center in Houston said in a statement. "The space station will benefit from having them on board."

The International Space Station is currently home to a crew of six; three Russian cosmonauts with Roscosmos, two Americans representing NASA and one French astronaut from the European Space Agency. The crew makes up Expedition 50, the 50th mission to the space station since the first crew — Expedition 1 —  took up residence in November 2000. 

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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.