For the rugby union and rugby league player, see Shannon Walker (rugby).

Shannon Walker (born 4 June 1965 in Houston, Texas) is an American scientist and a NASA astronaut, whose first space mission was Expedition 24 on the International Space Station with take-off on 15 June 2010.[1] She is married to a fellow NASA astronaut, the Australian-born Andy Thomas.[2] She is a member of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) and The Ninety-Nines International Organization of Women Pilots.


Walker graduated from Westbury High School in Houston in 1983;[3] received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Physics from Rice University in Houston in 1987; received a Master of Science and a Doctor of Philosophy in Space Physics from Rice University in 1992 and 1993 respectively.

NASA careerEdit

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, 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 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, 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. Most recently, prior to selection as an astronaut candidate, Walker was the Acting Manager of the On-Orbit Engineering Office.[2]

NEEMO 15 crew

The NEEMO 15 Crew: Left to right: Takuya Onishi, David Saint-Jacques, Steve Squyres, Walker.

Walker was selected by NASA as an Astronaut Candidate in May 2004. In February 2006 she completed Astronaut Candidate Training that 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. Completion of this initial training qualifies her for various technical assignments within the Astronaut Office and future flight assignment as a mission specialist.[2] In early September, she had visited Johnston Middle School, along with Parker and Westbury students. There, via TV, she spoke about dreams and education. She came back in early May.

Walker was assigned as the backup Commander for ISS Expedition 22 and as a Flight Engineer on the crew of Expedition 25.[4]

Walker was launched to space from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on 15 June 2010 in Soyuz TMA-19.[1] She returned to Earth aboard Soyuz TMA-19 on November 25, 2010.[5]

On September 19, 2011, NASA announced that Walker would command the NEEMO 15 undersea exploration mission aboard the Aquarius underwater laboratory from October 17–30, 2011.[6] Delayed by stormy weather and high seas, the mission began on October 20, 2011.[7][8] On the afternoon of October 21, Walker and her crew officially became aquanauts, having spent over 24 hours underwater. NEEMO 15 ended early on October 26 due to the approach of Hurricane Rina.[7]

Awards and honorsEdit

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.[2]


Walker's recreational interests include cooking, soccer, running, weight training, flying, camping, and travel.[2]


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External linksEdit

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