Nicole Mann is a member of the Round Valley Indian Tribes. She treasures her dream catcher. Her mother gave it to her. Mann has had it since she was a girl. It’s a small hoop with a feather. It’s said to offer protection. She believes it kept her safe when she flew 47 combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Mann is now a NASA astronaut. Last October, she blasted off aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon craft. She went to the International Space Station (ISS). Mann is the first Native American woman in space. She took her dream catcher with her.
Mann gave an interview to the Associated Press (AP). She spoke of the strength she draws from her tribal community.
A New View
Mann talked to the AP by way of a video link. “[I] know that I have the support of my family and community back home, and that when things are difficult or . . . I’m getting burned-out or frustrated, that strength is something that I will draw on,” she said.
What about the so-called overview effect? That’s the sense of awe astronauts describe. They feel it when they look down on the Earth from space.
“It is an incredible scene of color, of clouds and land,” Mann said. “It’s difficult not to stay in the cupola all day and just see our Planet Earth and how beautiful she is, and how delicate and fragile she is.” The crew aboard the ISS includes three Russian cosmonauts, three American astronauts, and one astronaut from Japan. Mann appreciates the power of this international collaboration.
“What that does,” she says, “is it just highlights our diversity and . . . the wonderful things that we can . . . accomplish.”
As a girl, Mann was fascinated by space. But she didn’t understand what it took to be an astronaut. And she didn’t know she could go to space too. Now she encourages young people to dream big and aim for the stars. Mann’s five-month mission aboard the ISS wraps up in March.