For day 10 of our Black History Month celebration, we recognize: Stephanie Wilson!
Stephanie Wilson is the second African American woman to go into space, after Mae Jemison, and she also holds the record of spending the most days in space of any African American astronaut.
Born on September 27, 1966, in Boston, Massachusetts, Wilson attended Taconic High School in Pittsfield, Massachusetts in 1984. She went on to receive her Bachelor of Science in Engineering Science from Harvard University in 1988. Following her graduation from Harvard, Wilson worked as a loads and dynamics engineer at the former Martin Marietta Astronautics Group in Denver, Colorado for the Titan IV rocket.
In 1990, Wilson left the Astronautics Group to attend graduate school at the University of Texas, where her research was sponsored by NASA’s Langley Research Center. In 1992, Wilson earned her Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Texas. After completing her graduate work, Wilson began working for Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, where she worked with a team on the Galileo spacecraft.
In 1996, Wilson was selected by NASA for the astronaut corps. In August of 1996, Wilson reported to NASA’s Johnson Space Center where she completed two years of training, qualifying her to be a mission specialist. Following her completion of the training, Wilson was assigned technical duties in the Astronaut Office Space Station branch, and later served as a Capsule Communicator in the Astronaut Office CAPCOM branch.
In November of 2004, Wilson was assigned to mission STS-121, a return to flight test mission. On STS-121, Wilson served as the robotic arm operator and the loadmaster. As the robotic arm operator, Wilson operated the arm for vehicle inspection and the installation of the “Leonardo” Multi-Purpose Logistics Module. As loadmaster, Wilson oversaw the transport of supplies and equipment to the space station which weighed more than 15,000 pounds.
In November of 2006, Wilson was assigned to STS-120, where she served as the flight engineer and robotic arm operator. As the flight engineer, Wilson assisted the commander and pilot with the space shuttle’s systems. As the primary robotic arm operator, Wilson helped in successfully completing an unplanned spacewalk to repair a damaged solar array.
In May of 2009, Wilson was assigned to STS‑131, a resupply mission. On STS-131, Wilson operated the space station’s robotic arm, which facilitated in supporting spacewalks. Wilson also assisted in the removal of the “Leonardo” Multi-Purpose Logistics Module, which was loaded with more than 6,000 pounds of hardware.
Aside from being a veteran of three spaceflights, Wilson also served as the Space Station Integration Branch Chief from 2010-2012 as well as a member of the Astronaut Selection Boards for 2009, 2013 and 2017. A member of the Astronaut Office, Wilson currently works in the Mission Support Crew branch for the International Space Station Program.