Mae Jemison Facts



Modified: 31 May 2023

Interesting Facts about Mae Jemison

As the first female Black astronaut in space, Mae Jemison is an inspiration to many. However, only a few know about Jemison beyond her life as an astronaut. If you’re interested in learning about the first woman in space, then keep on reading for more interesting facts about Mae Jemison!

  1. Mae Jemison logged 190 hours, 30 minutes, and 23 minutes in a co-op mission while in space.
  2. She worked as the mission specialist of the STS-47, the 50th shuttle mission.
  3. Mae Jemison was only 16 years old when she started college at Stanford.
  4. In 1977, Mae graduated from Stanford with a degree in Chemical Engineering.
  5. In 1981, she graduated from Cornell Medical College.
  1. Mae Carol Jemison was born on October 17, 1956, in Decatur, Alabama.
  2. Her mother, Dorothy Green, was an elementary school teacher, and her father, Charlie Jemison, was a maintenance supervisor.
  3. Mae Jemison is the youngest of three children.
  4. From 1990 to 1992, Jemison was on the Board of Directors of the World Sickle Cell Foundation.
  5. She served as a Peace Corps Medical Officer in Liberia and Sierra Leone from 1983 to 1985.
  6. After working as an astronaut for six years, Mae Jemison resigned in 1993.
  7. After resigning, she taught at Cornell University and Dartmouth College.
  8. In 1993, Mae Jemison also founded the Jemison Group for researching science and technology.
  9. As a black woman, Mae Jemison also advocates for minorities to join the field of science.
  10. Mae Jemison currently lives in Houston, Texas.
  1. Mae Jemison traveled to Cuba, Kenya, and Thailand as a general practitioner of medicine.
  2. As a medical officer in the Peace Corps, Jemison supervised the medical staff, pharmacy, and laboratory. She also wrote self-care manuals, guidelines, and various research.
  3. Jemison is involved with several organizations such as the Kimberly-Clark Corp., Texas Medical Center, and the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering.
  4. The Space Shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986 delayed Mae Jemison’s application with NASA.
  5. Jemison is also a member of the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine.
Table of Contents

Mae Jemison had fear of heights.

Aside from being one of the most interesting facts about Mae Jemison, it is also one of the most unexpected. You wouldn’t expect an astronaut to be afraid of anything, but Mae Jemison shared she was afraid of heights.

Her astronaut training, however, helped her overcome her fears. She used her drive and passion to push through, and soon enough, learning how to stay balanced helped her get over her fear of heights.

Her bravery and hard work led to her becoming the first Black woman in space. She followed in the footsteps of Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space.

Astronauts Jan Davis and Mae Jemison
Image from Picryl

At Stanford, Mae Jemison choreographed a musical called Out of the Shadows.

Most people think science and art don’t go together. Mae Jemison, on the other hand, proved it wrong. Ever since a child, Jemison has had a love for the arts, especially dancing.

At 8 years old, she began studying ballet, and she later learned African and Japanese dance as well. When she was in high school, she joined the Modern Dance Club and the cheerleading team. Her love for dance didn’t stop even when she was in college studying chemical engineering.

At Stanford, she choreographed Out of the Shadows, a musical about the experiences of African Americans. She was one of the few African Americans in her classes, and Jemison was no stranger to discrimination. Her passion for dance and her identity as a Black woman influenced her choreography.

This is one of the interesting facts about Mae Jemison that only a few people know. Mae Jemison isn’t just one of the most famous Black scientists ever. She is also a dancer and an advocate for equality.

Mae Jemison once appeared on the famous TV show Star Trek: The Next Generation.

As a child, Mae Jemison only had a few female Black astronauts she could look up to. However, this didn’t mean Mae Jemison didn’t have any inspiration growing up. One of the interesting facts about Mae Jemison is she loves the TV show Star Trek. 

Star Trek is a popular sci-fi TV show about space explorers aboard the USS Enterprise. Jemison’s favorite character from the show was Lieutenant Uhura, the shuttle’s communications officer. African-American actress Nichelle Nichols played Lieutenant Uhura. Because of her, Jemison developed an interest in space.

Actor LeVar Burton, Jr., who played Geordi La Forge, found out Jemison was a fan of the show. He invited her to appear in an episode, and Jemison readily agreed. In 1993, Mae Jemison appeared in Star Trek: The Next Generation, in the episode “Second Chances”. She became the first real astronaut to appear on the show.

Out of 2,000 applicants, Mae Jemison was one of the 15 individuals accepted into NASA.

Jemison first applied to NASA in 1983. Unfortunately, an accident on the Space Shuttle Challenger delayed NASA’s activities. Dubbed the “Space Shuttle Challenger disaster”, the space shuttle broke apart 73 seconds after taking flight. The accident led to the death of all crew members on board.

However, Mae Jemison did not let this accident scare or discourage her. In 1987, she applied once again, and NASA approved her application. On September 12, 1992, Jemison joined NASA’s 50th space shuttle mission called STS-47. They orbited the Earth for eight days until they returned on September 20, 1992.

Mae Jemison also had several other TV appearances to promote science and technology.

One of the more interesting facts about Mae Jemison is she didn’t shy away from the camera. Following her appearance on Star Trek, Jemison appeared in other TV shows, films, and documentaries. She appeared in the film, Susan B. Anthony Slept Here (1995), as herself.

In 1996, Jemison returned to the set of Star Trek. This time, she appeared as herself in the TV special Star Trek: 30 Years and Beyond.

In 1998, she also appeared in an episode of The New Explorers called “Endeavor”. Other media appearances as herself include How William Shatner Changed the World (2005), African American Lives (2006), No Gravity (2011), and The Real (2016).

Mae Jemison focused on bone cell research while she was on the STS-47.

Another interesting fact about Mae Jemison was how she greatly contributed to NASA’s Space Shuttle mission. The STS-47’s primary mission was to conduct several types of experiments inside the Spacelab-J, a laboratory inside the space shuttle.

The crew conducted microgravity research, with 24 experiments in material science and 20 experiments in life sciences. These experiments covered different fields, such as biotechnology, fluid dynamics, biology, and space radiation. Together with the rest of the crew, Mae Jemison also studied bone cells.

Research on the STS-047
Image from Picryl

Mae Jemison founded several organizations, including the Dorothy Jemison Foundation for Excellence.

Mae Jemison left NASA in 1993. However, her career didn’t end there. She founded The Jemison Group, a consulting company that helps develop other science and technology companies.

She also founded the Dorothy Jemison Foundation for Excellence (DJF) in honor of her mother. This non-profit organization focuses on creating science modules and other teaching materials. DJF also hosts The Earth We Share or TEWS. It is an international space camp for young students aged 12 to 16 years old. It was first launched in 1994, and it focuses on teaching science literacy to students from all around the world.

Mae Jemison wrote and published several books throughout her career.

In 2001, Mae Jemison published a memoir entitled Find Where the Wind Goes. She tells the story of her childhood and her experiences at Stanford. She also shares what her life was like while she was in the Peace Corps. and working for NASA.

Mae Jemison also wrote the book series A True Book with co-author Dana Meachen Rau. A True Book is an educational book series for children. There are four books in the series, and each book comprises true or false questions and challenges that are resolved at the end.

One of the interesting facts about Mae Jemison is that she has her own mini LEGO figure.

Only a few people can brag about having LEGO versions of themselves, and Mae Jemison is one of them.

In 2017, LEGO released a “Women of NASA” set. It comprised mini figures of female astronauts and scientists, including Margaret Hamilton, Sally Ride, Nancy Grace Roman, and, of course, Mae Jemison. The entire set also included three removable rocket stages, a telescope, and a computer.

The LEGO set fully honored the women of NASA by including a booklet about the four amazing women. It’s a great way to introduce these amazing female scientists to younger audiences and also a great way for existing fans to collect merchandise of their idols.

Interesting Facts about Mae Jemison: Women of NASA LEGO set
Image from Flickr

Because of her contributions to the field of science, Mae Jemison has received several awards and honorary degrees over the years.

The last entry for this list of interesting facts about Mae Jemison is her trove of well-deserved awards. In 1988, Jemison received the Essence Science and Technology Award. In 1993, she received the Kilby Science Award. People magazine also listed Jemison as one of the “50 Most Beautiful People in the World” in the same year.

Jemison has also been inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame, the National Women’s Hall of Fame, and the National Medical Association Hall of Fame. She is also in the Texas Science Hall of Fame.

One of Mae Jemison’s most famous quotes is, “Never be limited by other people’s limited expectations.” Jemison’s career, titles, and rewards are all proof that she didn’t limit herself to other people’s expectations. It’s no surprise why she continues to be an inspiration to both children and adults to this day.