By JEFFARAH GIBSON
Tribune Features Writer
BAHAMIAN-American Aisha Bowe will make history when she boards an upcoming Blue Origin flight that will cross the Kármán line - the internationally recognised boundary between Earth's atmosphere and outer space. She will be the first Bahamian and sixth Black woman to do so.
Aisha, a former NASA rocket scientist, entrepreneur and future commercial astronaut, is the first Black woman confirmed to travel on a commercial flight to space with Blue Origin, the private aerospace manufacturer and sub-orbital spaceflight company founded by Jeff Bezos.
She will travel aboard the New Shepard launch vehicle, a reusable suborbital rocket system named after astronaut Alan Shepard, the first American to go to space.
Ten years ago, this newspaper reported how we were one step closer to making Bahamian singer KB’s lyrics – “We headin’ into space; we takin’ rake n’ scrape” – come true. And now those words are about to become reality.
Aisha shared the exciting news about her upcoming trip with her followers on social media last week: “I’m going to space!”
“As the first Black woman confirmed to fly with @blueorigin on #NewShepard, I am expected to be the sixth Black woman to cross the Kármán line – the internationally recognised boundary of space!”
She continued: “This mission comes 30 years after former @nasa astronaut Mae Jemison became the first Black woman to travel to space in 1992. Since then, there are only four other Black women who carry that distinction: NASA astronauts Stephanie Wilson, Joan Higginbotham, Jessica Watkins and Dr Sian Proctor of the SpaceX Inspiration4 Mission.”
Aisha, who is in her mid-30s, is also the founder and CEO of STEMBoard, a tech company recognised as one of the fastest growing companies in America.
She was born and raised Michigan. Her father, a Bahamian who paid for his own engineering degree by driving a taxi, resettled the family in the US. He always encouraged her to imagine something more.
A serial entrepreneur who is passionate about empowering students to pursue careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), Aisha is one of a few women of colour who have raised over $1 million. In 2022, Aisha raised nearly $2 million in venture capital to fund LINGO, a self-paced coding kit for learning technical concepts at home. Growing fast, LINGO is currently used by over 5,000 students in 10 countries. The kits are sold on Amazon, Walmart and Target
Aisha made history as the first Bahamian woman to work with NASA as an aerospace engineer, and has been doing her part to promote STEM to youth. This summer, Aisha targeted 50 Bahamian students to award scholarships to so they could attend LINGO’s Solution’s HACK 2022 coding camp.
In 2015, she launched the camp at St Andrew’s International School in Nassau, but was unable to continue it for the past two years as a result of the pandemic.
She spent that time doing speaking engagements across the United States and Europe about the importance of preparing the youth for tech careers.
She also appeared in the ‘In Her Element’, a documentary hosted by Meena Harris, as one of three outstanding women in STEM making a difference in the world.
Aisha has appeared in major outlets such as Essence, Black Enterprise, The Tamron Hall Show and The Kelly Clarkson Show to talk about LINGO.
The coding kit has been so well received that the government of Bermuda and HBCU’s like Albany State University in the US have incorporated it into their school systems.
Aisha, whose journey to the stars began with a pre-algebra class in community college, has shared her inspiring story in interviews and presentations around the world as part of the State Department’s US Speaker Programme. She has garnered significant attention from national TV, online, and print media outlets.
Aisha holds a BSE in Aerospace Engineering and an M. Eng. in Space Systems Engineering from the University of Michigan, and sits on the university’s Aerospace Department Industry Advisory Board.
Though she did not follow the advice of a guidance counsellor who recommended cosmetology as a career path, Aisha is still a huge fan of beauty and fashion.
Photos from aishabowe.com
Porcupine 4 months, 3 weeks ago
Congratulations and safe travels!
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