A Profile of Stephanie D. Wilson, Astronaut and AME
In April, The Christian Recorder had the opportunity to interview Astronaut Stephanie Wilson. We acknowledge the help of the NASA Public Affairs office and Social Action Director Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker for arranging the conversation.
From age 13, Stephanie D. Wilson dreamed of being among the stars. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, her love of astronomy led her to complete 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 at Austin in 1992. Her graduate research, sponsored by a NASA Graduate Student Researchers Fellowship, focused on the control and modeling of large, flexible space structures. After her time at UT Austin, she worked at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, from 1992 to 1996.
Wilson accomplished her lifelong goal of becoming an astronaut in April 1996. She has flown space shuttle missions in 2006, 2007, and 2010 and logged 42 days in space. Currently, she is stationed at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, working on projects for the International Space Station while she awaits her next trip into outer space. It typically takes two years to prepare for a successful space mission once it is announced. Reflecting on the recent movie Hidden Figures and her own work as an astronaut, she said, “I hope that young girls especially will be inspired to enter into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields.”
Wilson is the recipient of numerous accolades for her research and works with NASA including Harvard Foundation Scientist of the Year Award; Johnson Space Center Director’s Innovation Group Achievement Award; and Johnson Space Center Director Commendation Award. She also served on the Harvard University Board of Overseers (Trustees) (2007-2013) and is a member of The Links, Incorporated.
A member of the AME Church, Wilson was honored by the Council of Bishops prior to her first space flight in 2006 and received a tribute from the 10th Episcopal District (Texas) at the 2017 Founder’s Day Legacy Luncheon. She has been affiliated with congregations in Denver, Colorado, and Los Angeles, California serving in a variety of offices on the local church level for the YPD, lay organization, and trustee and steward boards. Wilson is currently affiliated with Reedy Chapel AME Church in Galveston, Texas, where the Rev. Mary Reed is the pastor. When asked about the role of her faith in life, Wilson commented, “The journey of life is wonderful. God has given us a purpose. Do all you can for His purpose.”