Shannon Walker is an American scientist and a NASA astronaut. She was born on June 4, 1965 in Houston, Texas. She graduated from Westbury High School in Houston in 1983, and then received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Physics from Rice University in 1987. Walker began her career in 1987 with the Rockwell Space Operations Company at the Johnson Space Center as a robotics flight controller for the Space Shuttle Program. She served as a flight controller in the Mission Control Center for 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. She continued her education at Rice, earning a Master of Science degree in 1992 and a Doctor of Philosophy in Space Physics in 1993. In 1995, she returned to the Johnson Space center and joined the NASA civil service to begin working in the International Space Station. There she aligned with the ISS International Partners in the development of the robotics hardware for the Space Station. In 1998, she became a manager in the ISS Mission Evaluation Room. The following year, Walker moved to Moscow, Russia to work with the Russian Space Agency. After her return to the States in 2000, she resumed her position as the technical lead for the ISS MER as well as the Deputy Manager of the On-Orbit Engineering Office.
In May 2004, Walker was chosen by NASA to be an Astronaut Candidate. She completed Astronaut Candidate Training in February 2006 and therefore became qualified for technical assignments within the Astronaut Office and future flight assignments. She was first assigned as the backup Commander for ISS Expedition 22. Then, on June 15, 2010 Walker was launched aboard the Soyuz TMA-19 spacecraft and headed to the International Space Station for Expeditions 24 and 25 as a Flight Engineer. During her stay on the ISS, she participated in multiple scientific investigations. She returned to Earth aboard Soyuz TMA-19 on November 25, 2010. On October 20, 2011, the NEEMO 15 mission began aboard the Aquarius underwater laboratory with Walker as commander. While she successfully became an aquanaut after spending over 24 hours underwater, the mission was cut short due to Hurricane Rina. She is married to fellow NASA astronaut Andy Thomas. She is a member of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and The Ninety-Nines International Organization of Women Pilots.
Image Caption: Astronaut Shannon Walker. Credit: NASA/Wikipedia