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Preparation Meets Opportunity for NASA's Stephanie Wilson
July 8, 2006
Massachusetts-born Stephanie Wilson and six others launched on NASA's STS-121 flight on July 4. Their 13 day mission will resupply the International Space Station and deliver a new station crew member. Wilson is responsible for cargo transfer amounting to several tons of supplies and instruments.

The flight continues a girlhood dream, but it's based on lots of hard work beginning in 1979.

photo: stephanie wilson at technical equipment console
STS-121 Mission Specialist Stephanie Wilson participates in a simulation exercise using the Space Station Remote Manipulator System simulator. NASA photo.
From an official interview earlier this year:

Q: Stephanie, you have a job that millions of people dream about having. Is being an astronaut, exploring space, is that what you always wanted to do with your life?

A: It is. When I was 13 I first became interested in space. I actually had a school assignment to interview someone that worked in a career field that I was interested in, and I interviewed a local area astronomy professor. I was very fascinated by his work. Later, though, I became more interested in engineering, and I thought that aerospace engineering would be a good combination of my interest in space and my interest in engineering.

Q: What was it that made you, as a, as a young girl, to be interested in astronomy and space?

A: Well, I grew up in a small town in Massachusetts and all of the stars were very visible at night and so, I just looked up at the heavens and I thought it would be a nice way to fulfill my interest in space.


PERSONAL DATA: Born in 1966 in Boston Massachusetts. Enjoys snow skiing, music, stamp collecting, and traveling.

EDUCATION: Graduated from Taconic High School, Pittsfield, Massachusetts, in 1984; received a bachelor of science degree in engineering science from Harvard University in 1988, and a master of science degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas, in 1992.

ORGANIZATIONS: American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

EXPERIENCE: After graduating from Harvard in 1988, Wilson worked for 2 years for the former Martin Marietta Astronautics Group in Denver, Colorado. As a Loads and Dynamics engineer for Titan IV, Wilson was responsible for performing coupled loads analyses for the launch vehicle and payloads during flight events. Wilson left Martin Marietta in 1990 to attend graduate school at the University of Texas. Her research focused on the control and modeling of large, flexible space structures. Following the completion of her graduate work, she began working for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, in 1992. As a member of the Attitude and Articulation Control Subsystem for the Galileo spacecraft, Wilson was responsible for assessing attitude controller performance, science platform pointing accuracy, antenna pointing accuracy and spin rate accuracy. She worked in the areas of sequence development and testing as well. While at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Wilson also supported the Interferometery Technology Program as a member of the Integrated Modeling Team, which was responsible for finite element modeling, controller design, and software development.

NASA EXPERIENCE: Selected by NASA in April 1996, Wilson reported to the Johnson Space Center in August 1996. Having completed two years of training and evaluation, she is qualified for flight assignment as a mission specialist. She was initially assigned technical duties in the Astronaut Office Space Station Operations Branch to work with Space Station payload displays and procedures. She then served in the Astronaut Office CAPCOM Branch, working in Mission Control as a prime communicator with on-orbit crews. Following her work in Mission Control, Wilson was assigned technical duties in the Astronaut Office Shuttle Operations Branch involving the Space Shuttle Main Engines, External Tank and Solid Rocket Boosters. Wilson is assigned to the crew of STS-121, a return-to-flight test mission and assembly flight to the International Space Station.

After NASA, JANUARY 2006

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