Veteran Nasa astronaut Stephanie Wilson during a space
flight on board space shuttle Discovery. Photo bh NASA.
It was just one small step for Stephanie Wilson which led
her to one giant leap in career opportunities - taking science
at her secondary school in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
She has gone on to become a veteran Nasa astronaut, and her
next touch-down will be at this year's eighth New Zealand
International Science Festival in Dunedin, to be held from
June 30 to July 8.
Ms Wilson graduated from Taconic High School in 1984. She
went on to receive a bachelor of science degree in
engineering science from Harvard University in 1988, and a
master of science degree in aerospace engineering from the
University of Texas in 1992.
From there, she was selected by Nasa in April 1996 and, after
completing two years' training and evaluation, qualified for
her first flight assignment as a mission specialist.
She went on space flights in the space shuttle Discovery in
2006, 2007 and 2010 - logging more than 42 days in space.
Festival director Chris Green said having a Nasa astronaut
attend this year's festival was a "dream come true".
"At some stage of your life, you imagine what it would be
like to be a Nasa astronaut and travel into space.
"Festival attendees will be able to hear first-hand from
Stephanie what being an astronaut is all about - from the
rigorous training it takes to become an astronaut, to what
they eat when they are on a space mission.
"We are really excited to secure her attendance for 2012."
In keeping with the festival theme "What Makes Us Tick?", Ms
Wilson will be involved in workshops for children, a family
fun quiz night, presentations in Wall Street mall on July 4
(US Independence Day) and an evening presentation open to the