Shannon Walker

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Shannon Walker
Born (1965-06-04) 4 June 1965 (age 55)
Space career
NASA Astronaut
Time in space
163 days 7 hours 11 minutes
Selection2004 NASA Group 19
MissionsSoyuz TMA-19 (Expedition 24/25), USCV-1 (Expedition 64/65)
Mission insignia
Soyuz-TMA-19-Mission-Patch.png ISS Expedition 24 Patch.svg ISS Expedition 25 Patch.png

Shannon Walker (born 4 June 1965 in Houston, Texas) is an American physicist and a NASA astronaut selected in 2004. She launched on her first mission into space on 25 June 2010 onboard Soyuz TMA-19 and has currently logged 163 days in space over one long-duration mission to the International Space Station (ISS).[1]

She is scheduled to return to the ISS for a second long-duration flight in late 2020 onboard USCV-1, the first operational flight of SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft.

Early life and education[edit]

Walker was born in Houston, where she attended Westbury High School until graduating in 1983.

She then went on to study physics at Rice University in Texas, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Physics in 1987. From 1990 to 1993, Walker took a leave of absence from her job at the Johnson Space Center to attend graduate school, where her area of study was the solar wind interaction with the Venusian atmosphere.[2]


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.

In 1995 she joined the NASA civil service and began working in the International Space Station (ISS) Program at the Johnson Space Center.

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 ISS.

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 one year later in 2000 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.[3]

Astronaut career[edit]

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, as part of the 19th class of astronauts. 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.[3]

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.

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.[4] Delayed by stormy weather and high seas, the mission began on October 20, 2011.[5][6] 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.[5]

Expedition 24/25[edit]

Walker was assigned as backup to NASA Astronaut Jeff Williams for ISS Expedition 21/22, directly serving as backup Commander for Expedition 22. Following the launch of Expedition 21/22 on Soyuz TMA-16 in September 2009, Walker was assigned to the prime crew of Expedition 24/25.[7]

Soyuz TMA-19 Crew (Walker on the right) prior to launch.

On June 15, 2010, Walker launched onboard Soyuz TMA-19, alongside fellow NASA astronaut Douglas Wheelock and Roscosmos cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin. Two days later the trio rendezvoused with the ISS and docked to the Zvezda module, officially becoming part Expedition 24 crew.[8] During Expedition 24, Walker and her two Soyuz TMA-19 counterparts made a 30-minute excursion inside of their Soyuz to move from the Zvezda module to the new Rassvet module, which had been delivered onboard STS-132 during the previous Expedition. The three became the first crewmembers to dock with the new module.[9]

Walker (bottom left) following her arrival aboard the ISS.

Upon the departure of the crew of Soyuz TMA-18 on September 25, 2010, Walker and her two crewmates became part of Expedition 25. They were soon joined by the three crew members onboard Soyuz TMA-01M. On November 26, 2010, Walker, Wheelock and Yurchikin departed the ISS onboard Soyuz TMA-19 and began their return home. The three returned to Earth at 04:46 UTC on November 26, 2010, 78 kilometers from Arkalyk, Kazakhstan.[10]

Expedition 64/65[edit]

In 2017 Walker served as backup for NASA astronaut Joe Acaba for Expedition 53/54, and she herself was scheduled to launch onboard Soyuz MS-12 in early 2019 and serve on Expedition 59/60, although she was removed from the flight and replaced with Christina Koch well before launch.[11][12] On March 31, 2020, NASA announced Walker would be returning to space for her second spaceflight onboard USCV-1, the first operational flight of SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft and the first operational flight of the Commercial Crew Program. She and her three crew mates are currently scheduled to spend up to 210 days aboard the ISS as part of Expedition 64/65.

Following launch, the crew will dock to the ISS and join the Expedition 64 crew as Flight Engineers, alongside Russian cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, as well as NASA astronaut Kathleen Rubins . When those three leave the station, currently scheduled for 18 April 2021, Walker and her three crew mates will transfer over to Expedition 65, with one of them taking command of the station for the remainder of their mission.

Awards and honors[edit]

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.[3]

She is a member of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) and The Ninety-Nines International Organization of Women Pilots.

Personal life[edit]

She is married to a fellow NASA astronaut, the Australian-born Andy Thomas.[3]

Walker's recreational interests include cooking, soccer, running, weight training, flying, camping, and travel.[3]


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

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  3. ^ a b c d e NASA (December 2010). "Astronaut Bio: Shannon Walker (12/2010)". NASA. Retrieved October 28, 2011.
  4. ^ NASA (September 19, 2011). "NASA - NASA Announces 15th Undersea Exploration Mission Date And Crew". NASA. Retrieved September 19, 2011.
  5. ^ a b NASA (October 27, 2011). "NASA - NEEMO 15 Topside Reports". NASA. Retrieved October 27, 2011.
  6. ^ Walker, Shannon (October 21, 2011). "NEEMO 15 - Splashdown Day!". NASA. Retrieved October 25, 2011.
  7. ^ NASA HQ (2008). "NASA Assigns Space Station Crews, Updates Expedition Numbering". NASA. Retrieved November 21, 2008.
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