Spaced Out Sista

Stephanie Wilson The space shuttle Discovery is back at the launching pad for NASA’s second orbiter mission since the 2003 Columbia accident that killed the seven astronauts aboard.

This time, Stephanie Wilson, the second African woman to join the crew of a space shuttle, will be one of the seven astronauts aboard NASA’s STS-121 when it takes off from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., on July 4th.

“I grew up in a small town 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,” says Wilson, a 40-year-old Massachusetts native.

So she took her interest to the next level, going on to study engineering science at Harvard University and then earning her master’s degree in aerospace engineering at the University of Texas.

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. This, her first space flight, is a natural progression from working on launch vehicles and robotic spacecraft to now flying on the shuttle, Wilson says.

This voyage marks a major milestone for NASA’s STS-121, commanded by shuttle veteran Steven Lindsey. The mission is to test shuttle fuel tank modifications, orbiter repair techniques and resupply the International Space Station (ISS). The trip will last until July 19.

“It’s a fabulous feeling to see that we’re rolling Discovery back to the launch pad for our next launch attempt,” NASA’s shuttle program manager Wayne Hale told reporters. “I think we’re on a really good path to make that July 1 window opening day.”

Guion S. Bluford Jr. was the first African American to serve aboard a space shuttle. Mae C. Jemison was the first African American woman. Michael Anderson was one of the seven astronauts killed when Discovery disintegrated upon re-entry in 2003.
[tags]Stephanie Wilson, Space Shuttle, Discovery, Nasa[/tags]