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Speaking from Space

ON HER WAY NASA’s Nicole Mann rides in the cupola of the Dragon spacecraft going to the International Space Station. NASA

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.

SUITED UP With Mann’s help, astronauts Josh Cassada (left) and Rubio prepare for a seven-hour spacewalk.


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.

ALL SMILES Mann and astronaut Frank Rubio pose with their mission insignia on board the ISS. They’re 262 miles above the Pacific Ocean.


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 cupola ROBERTO MACHADO NOA—GETTY IMAGES a small structure used for observation (noun) The view from the cupola was amazing. all day and just see our Planet Earth and how beautiful she is, and how delicate and fragile fragile JAMIE GRILL—GETTY IMAGES delicate; easy to break or ruin (adjective) The lamp is fragile and must be handled with care. 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.

TEAMWORK Flight engineers Mann and Koichi Wakata, of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, work together on the ISS.


“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.