Event: NASA astronaut Stephanie Wilson, an engineering alumnus who is the second black woman to have flown in space, will speak on her shuttle experiences. The title of her speech is "Space Construction of the International Space Station: A Personal Journey."
When: 2-3 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 26
Where: Applied Computational Engineering and Sciences Building (ACES) Avaya Auditorium at The University of Texas at Austin. A campus map can be found online.
Background: Wilson's talk focuses on her experiences as a veteran of two space flights (STS-121 in 2006 and STS-120 in 2007), totaling 28 days in orbit. She also is assigned to the crew of STS-131 scheduled for launch February 2010.
During STS-121, the Space Shuttle Discovery crew tested new equipment and procedures that increase the safety of space shuttles and repaired a rail car on the International Space Station. Wilson supported robotic arm operations for vehicle inspection, multi-purpose logistics module installation and was responsible for the transfer of more than 28,000 pounds of supplies and equipment to the space station.
For STS-120, the crew delivered the Node 2 module named "Harmony" to the space station, which allowed for future international laboratories to be added to the space station. The crew also conducted spacewalks to repair the station's solar array.
After her talk, Wilson will present to university faculty a school banner that flew with her aboard STS-121.
Wilson earned her master's degree in aerospace engineering from the university in 1992. Her research focused on the control and modeling of large, flexible space structures while she worked under the supervision of Roy Craig (retired) and Robert Bishop, now chair of the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics. Upon graduation, Wilson worked for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. She was selected by NASA in 1996.
Wilson's NASA bio is online.
Note to editors: Wilson will be available immediately after the talk for interviews. On the day of the event, Daniel Vargas, Cockrell School of Engineering, can be reached by cell phone at 512-810-1783.