Shannon Walker

Women in STEM
Women in STEM
Shannon Walker

Birth:  June 4, 1965

Specialty: Physics

Major Contributions:

Served as flight engineer of Russian Soyuz spacecraft, TMA-19

Spent 161 days aboard International Space Station

Commander of the NEEMO 15 undersea exploration mission

Member of the Ninety-Nines International Organization of Women Pilots


Space physicist Dr. Shannon Walker has a second distinction that sets her apart even from the small group of people that have traveled to space. In addition to being an astronaut she is also an aquanaut.

After earning her bachelor’s degree from Rice University she began working with Rockwell Space Operations Company, a contractor at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in 1987.  As a robotics flight controller in the Mission Control Center, she worked for the Space Shuttle program on numerous missions.

Taking a leave of absence, she returned to Rice to earn graduate degrees in space physics culminating in a doctorate in 1993.  Returning to NASA two years later, she began working as part of the International Space Station program at JSC in robotics integration. In 1999 she was invited to work with the Russian Space Agency on several aspects of the ISS and spent a year working in Russia. She returned to the US to fill the role of the technical lead for ISS Mission Evaluation Room and Deputy Manager of the On-Orbit Engineering Office. 

Selected in 2004 to complete astronaut candidate training, she became qualified to fly aboard the space shuttle or the ISS, as well as participating in Extravehicular Activity (EVA) skills. Starting her training for an extended stay in space in 2007, she learned to serve as a flight-engineer, or co-pilot, for the Soyuz craft that was used as part of Expedition 24/25. They launched June 15 returning to Earth November 23, 2010, spending a total of 161 days on the ISS.

It was just the next year when she was selected by NASA to command the NEEMO 15 undersea exploration mission aboard the Aquarius underwater laboratory whose mission was originally slated to run from October 17th-30th but was cut short by hurricane Rita. As the crew spent over 24 hours underwater, they earned the official designation as aquanauts.

As the Crew-1 mission specialist for the second crewed flight of SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft, Walker started her second long duration mission aboard the ISS where she acted as Flight Engineer. Returning after 168 days in orbit, she has logged a total of 330 days in space and is currently the Deputy Chief of the Astronaut Office.

Written by Angela Goad


NASA Bio: Shannon Walker

Field Notes: Astronaut Shannon Walker

Astronaut Biography: Shannon Walker

NASA’s Shannon Walker ’87 returns with gifts from space

Wikipedia: Shannon Walker

See Also:

Astronaut at a Glance: Shannon Walker

Astronaut Shannon Walker

About NEEMO (NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations)