NASA bumps astronaut from CNY off June spaceflight in rare move

In this Sept. 16, 2014 photo provided by NASA, astronaut Jeanette Epps participates in a spacewalk training session at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. In June 2018, Epps was supposed to be the first African-American to live on the International Space Station, but on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018, NASA announced it was pulling her off the mission for undisclosed reasons. (Robert Markowitz/NASA via AP)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA has bumped an astronaut from Central New York off an upcoming spaceflight, a rare move for the space agency so close to launch.

Astronaut Jeanette Epps was supposed to rocket away in early June, and would have been the first African-American to live on the International Space Station. Late Thursday, NASA announced it was pulling Epps off the mission but didn't disclose why.

She's been replaced by her backup, Serena Aunon-Chancellor.

Epps is returning to Houston from Russia, where she'd been training to fly with a German and Russian. NASA spokeswoman Brandi Dean said Friday it was a decision by NASA, not the Russian Space Agency.

African-Americans have visited the space station, but Epps would have been the first to live there. NASA assigned her to the flight a year ago.

Epps is a Syracuse native; she graduated from Corcoran High School, and then earned a bachelor's degree in physics from Le Moyne in 1992. She went on to complete a master’s of science in 1994 and a doctorate in 2000 in aerospace engineering from the University of Maryland.

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