September 12, 1992 : First African-American Woman in Space

Originally from Baltimore, Oliver lives and writes on a quiet, tree-lined street in Brooklyn.
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A crew member performs an experiment on a female frog during the Spacelab-J space mission. (Photo: Getty Images)

On this day in 1992, Spacelab-J—a joint mission sponsored by NASA and the National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA)—sends a Spacelab module to conduct microgravity investigations in materials and life sciences.

The international crew represented a number of space "firsts." On board were Mae Carol Jemison, the first African-American woman in space, Mamoru Mohri, the first Japanese citizen to fly in a U.S. spaceship, and Mark Lee and Jan Davis, the first married couple in space (a rare bending of the rules by NASA).

The crew spent the trip conducting experiments on human health, developmental biology, animal and human physiology and behavior, space radiation, and biological rhythms.

Test subjects included the crew, Japanese koi fish (carp), cultured animal and plant cells, chicken embryos, fruit flies, fungi, plant seeds, and frogs and frog eggs.

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