Stephanie D. Wilson, an attitude-control engineer on the Galileo flight team at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, has been named to NASA's astronaut candidate class of 1996.
Wilson will join 24 other mission specialists and 10 pilot candidates in August at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, for a year's training and evaluation before assignment to the NASA Astronaut Office and eventual flight duty.
"I am very excited and honored to have been selected from so many qualified candidates," she said. "This is a dream come true for me. I believe the experience I have gained here at JPL, working with a spacecraft exploring the solar system, has best prepared me for the astronaut program."
Wilson is the first woman and first African American at JPL to be selected for mission specialist training. A member of the Galileo orbiter engineering team, she works with a group of nearly 100 engineers who monitor and study the performance of every element of the spacecraft and recommend operational and software changes when needed.
Wilson concentrates her work on the attitude and articulation control system, which controls Galileo's orientation and points the spacecraft's scientific instruments. As a part of that activity, she analyzes the behavior of the spinning spacecraft and leads the analysis team. She also leads the uplink team responsible for developing and testing Galileo spacecraft sequences.
Born in Boston and raised in Pittsfield, Mass., Wilson currently resides in Los Angeles. Before joining JPL in 1992, she earned a bachelor of science degree from Harvard University and worked as a loads and dynamics engineer for the Titan IV program at the former Martin Marietta Astronautics Group. She later earned a master of science degree in aerospace engineering at the University of Texas.
Wilson is a member of JPL's Advisory Council for Women and several outside professional organizations, including the American Institute of Aeronautics and Aeronautics and the Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering. She has also served as a volunteer tutor in math and science for underprivileged youth in both Pasadena and Los Angeles.
"Stephanie will be a real asset to the astronaut corps just as she has been to the Galileo flight team," said Galileo Mission Director Neal Ausman. "We wish her well and hope she has many challenging tours as a Galileo astronaut aboard the Shuttle and Space Station."
Wilson becomes the fourth mission specialist candidate from JPL to be selected for the program. Previous candidates are: G. David Low, a former member of the Galileo project who flew on three Space Shuttle missions, STS-32 in 1990, STS-43 in 1991 and STS-57 in 1993; Jay Apt, who flew on a spaceborne imaging radar (SIR-C/X-SAR) mission, STS-59, in April 1994; and Dr. Andrew Thomas, who will be making his first flight aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour on May 19, 1996.
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