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'Time' Names Maine Astronaut Jessica Meir One Of 2020's Most Influential People

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NASA
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via AP
In this image from NASA video NASA, U.S. astronaut Jessica Meir speaks, accompanied by Andrew Morgan and fellow Mainer Chris Cassidy, during a news conference held by the American members of the International Space Station on Friday, April 10, 2020.

Aroostook County native Jessica Meir lifted the dreams and spirits of Mainers when she made her extraordinary journey into outer space. But Meir’s influence has spread beyond the borders of her home state.

In its new listing, Time magazine named the astronaut among the most influential people of 2020.

Meir made history on Sept. 28, 2019, when she became the first Maine woman to go into space. During her six-month mission aboard the International Space Station, Meir and her fellow astronaut Christina Koch, with whom she shared the honor in the national magazine, performed with aplomb “intellectually” and “physically demanding” work in the most difficult environment humans have yet encountered, Mae Jemison, the first African American woman in space, wrote in explaining the duo’s accomplishment.

Meir, the valedictorian of Caribou High School’s Class of 1995, was among three women and four men selected from 6,100 applicants in 2013 for NASA’s 21st class of astronauts and to begin training for future space flights. That came only four years after Meir first applied but was rejected for NASA’s 20th class of astronauts. NASA announced in April 2019 that Meir would make her first space flight in September.

Meir has a degree in biology from Brown University, a master’s in space studies from the International Space University in Illkirch, France, and a Ph.D. in marine biology from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, according to NASA.

“I believe that Koch and Meir, by their sheer skill and execution, shift us closer to a template based on intelligence, agility, capability, integrity, courage and excellence,” Jemison wrote.

That may not be Meir’s last contribution to the annals of major human endeavors. Not long after she completed her first spacewalk, Meir told NASA-TV that her next goal may be to join the next human mission to the moon. The last human manned mission to the moon was in December 1972. Last year, the Trump administration set a goal to return to the moon by 2024.