Status: Active 2004-on. Born: 1965-06-04. Spaceflights: 1 . Total time in space: 163.30 days. Birth Place: Houston, Texas.
Official NASA Biography as of June 2016:SHANNON WALKER (PH.D)
PERSONAL DATA: Born June 4, 1965 in Houston, Texas. Married to astronaut Andy Thomas. Recreational interests include cooking, soccer, running, weight training, flying, camping, and travel. Her mother, Sherry Walker, resides in Boerne, Texas. Her father, Robert Walker, is deceased.
EDUCATION: Graduated from Westbury Senior High, Houston, Texas, in 1983; received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Physics from Rice University in Houston, Texas in 1987; received a Masters of Science and a Doctorate of Philosophy in Space Physics from Rice University in 1992 and 1993, respectively.
ORGANIZATIONS: Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association; The Ninety-Nines International Organization of Women Pilots.
SPECIAL HONORS: Goethe Institute Scholarship for Study Abroad, Rice Fellowship for Graduate Study, Rockwell Sustained Superior Performance Award; seven Group Achievement Awards for work in the International Space Station (ISS) Program; three Going the Extra Mile Awards for work in the ISS Program; a Space Flight Awareness Award for contributions to the ISS Program; and nine Performance Bonus Awards.
NASA EXPERIENCE: Dr. Walker began her professional career with the Rockwell Space Operations Company at the Johnson Space Center in 1987 as a robotics flight controller for the Space Shuttle Program. She worked several Space Shuttle missions as a flight controller in the Mission Control Center, including STS-27, STS-32, STS-51, STS-56, STS-60, STS-61, and STS-66. From 1990 to 1993, Dr. Walker took a leave of absence from the Johnson Space Center to attend graduate school, where her area of study was the solar wind interaction with the Venusian atmosphere. In 1995, she joined the NASA civil service and began working in the International Space Station (ISS) Program at the Johnson Space Center. Dr. Walker worked in the area of robotics integration, working with the ISS International Partners in the design and construction of the robotics hardware for the Space Station. In 1998 she joined the ISS Mission Evaluation Room (MER) as a manager for coordinating on-orbit problem resolution for the International Space Station. In 1999, Dr. Walker moved to Moscow, Russia to work with the Russian Space Agency and its contractors in the areas of avionics integration for the ISS as well as integrated problem solving for the ISS. She returned to Houston in 2000 after a year in Russia and became the technical lead for the ISS MER as well as the Deputy Manager of the On-Orbit Engineering Office. Prior to selection as an astronaut candidate, Dr. Walker was the Acting Manager of the On-Orbit Engineering Office.
Selected by NASA in May 2004, Walker completed Astronaut Candidate Training in February 2006. Her training included scientific and technical briefings, intensive instruction in Shuttle and International Space Station systems, physiological training, T-38 flight training, and water and wilderness survival training. Dr. Walker is qualified to fly aboard the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station. She has also completed qualification in the Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Skills program and the Canadian Space Agency Mobile Servicing System (MSS) Robotics Operator (MRO) course.
Following her Astronaut Candidate Training, Dr, Walker assumed the duties as the crew support astronaut for the ISS Expedition 14 crew, which was on orbit for 215 day from September 2006 to April 2007. As a crew support astronaut she was the primary contact for all crew coordination, planning, and interactions, and was the primary representative for the crew while they were on orbit. In addition, Dr. Walker was assigned as a Spacecraft Communicator (CAPCOM) in the Mission Control Center in Houston. In that role, she was the primary communication link between the crew on the Space Station and the ground support team. Her work as a CAPCOM culminated in her assignment as the lead Space Station CAPCOM for the STS-118 Shuttle mission which docked with the Space Station and carried out four EVAs and added the S5 truss to the Station.
In the Summer of 2007, Dr. Walker began training for a long duration flight on the International Space Station. Initially assigned as a backup Expedition 19 crewmember, as a backup crewmember for Expedition 21/22 and a primary crew member for Expedition 24/25.
Dr. Walker launched and served as flight engineer (co-pilot) of Russian Soyuz spacecraft, TMA-19, on June 15, 2010 for a long duration mission aboard the International Space Station. She again served as a Flight Engineer during landing, which occurred November 25, 2010. The entire mission lasted 163 days, 161 of them aboard the Station.
Official NASA Biography - May 2004
Shannon Walker, Mission Specialist
BORN: Houston, Texas
EDUCATION: BS, Physics, Rice University, 1987; MS, Astrophysics, Rice University, 1992; PhD, Astrophysics, Rice University, 1993
CURRENT JOB: Acting Manager, On-Orbit Engineering Office, International Space Station (ISS) Office, Johnson Space Center (JSC)
QUICK FACT: Took the Trans-Siberian Railway across Russia into Mongolia and China.
QUOTE: "I also want to encourage young people to think about what the future can be like if we work together to accomplish difficult goals, such as the exploration of space."
For a city synonymous with the U.S. space program, Shannon Walker is a hometown girl made good. She was born in Houston, raised in Houston, earned three university degrees in Houston, and beginning this summer, she will begin living out her dream -- where else, but Houston.
Dr. Walker has been selected to begin astronaut training as a mission specialist at NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC). "Most of my family and friends are very familiar with the human space flight program and with the excitement of becoming an astronaut," she says. "Everyone is quite thrilled."
Image left: 2004 Astronaut Candidate Shannon Walker. Click for High Resolution Image. Photo credit: NASA/Johnson Space Center.
Dr. Walker is also intimately familiar with space flight. She currently works at JSC, managing a team of engineers that monitors the health of the International Space Station. Her work has also given her the opportunity to live in Moscow, where she worked with Russian engineers, as part of the Space Station program.
"While I was there, I was able to take the Trans-Siberian Railway across Russia and into Mongolia, finishing the trip in Beijing, China. It was a fascinating way to see the countryside," she says.
As an astronaut, Dr. Walker says she would like to fly to the International Space Station, and she is even hitching her star to the new Vision for Space Exploration. "I would love to fly to the moon or Mars," she says.
"I also want to encourage young people to think about what the future can be like if we work together to accomplish difficult goals, such as the exploration of space," she says.
She graduated from Westbury High School in Houston, and she holds a doctorate in astrophysics from Rice University, where she also earned her Bachelor's and Master's degrees.
Dr. Walker says she likes to be outdoors running, biking, playing soccer, camping and hiking. "During and after college, I did a lot of biking and bike touring," she says. "I enjoy traveling and seeing new places -- especially places where I can go hiking."
Dr. Walker, 38, is also licensed as a private pilot and owns her own airplane. She comes from a "fairly large" family. Her father is a physics professor and university administrator, and her mother is a computer specialist. She has three siblings and nine nieces and nephews.
"I wanted to become an astronaut because I believe that the exploration of space by humans is extremely important," she says. "I want to be part of expanding humans' role in space flight."
The group was selected to provide pilot and mission specialists for post-ISS spaceflights to the moon and beyond. Qualifications: Pilots: Bachelor's degree in engineering, biological science, physical science or mathematics. Advanced degree desirable. At least 1,000 flight-hours of pilot-in-command time. Flight test experience desirable. Excellent health. Vision minimum 20/50 uncorrected, correctable to 20/20 vision; maximum sitting blood pressure 140/90. Height between 163 and 193 cm.
Mission Specialists: Bachelor's degree in engineering, biological science, physical science or mathematics and minimum three years of related experience or an advanced degree. Vision minimum 20/150 uncorrected, correctable to 20/20. Maximum sitting blood pressure of 140/90. Height between 150 and 193 cm.. Due to a surplus of astronauts and a dearth of missions, NASA cancelled the planned 2002 astronaut selection. The next call for applications was made in May 2003, with a due date of 1 July. 'Educator astronauts' were especially requested, and 1100 applications were received in this category. The final selection was two pilots and nine mission specialists; nine men and two women. Given the drastic reduction if shuttle flights and ISS crew size planned for the post-Columbia disaster period, the chances for astronauts from this group flying in the next decade seemed slim indeed. Also training in this group were three NASDA astronauts from Japan.
ISS EO-24 crew. The return to earth was reported advanced four days to avoid coinciding with an OSCE conference in Kazakhstan. The crew undocked from the Rassvet module of the ISS at 01:23 GMT on 26 November 2010. There was a leak in the descent module, but ground controllers concluded the return to earth could be conducted safely. The Soyuz made its deorbit burn at 03:55 GMT and landed safely in Kazakhstan at 04:46 GMT.