Westbury HS grad to become commander of International Space Station

Students at Westbury High School will soon watch one of their own take command of the International Space Station.

Shannon Walker, a 1983 graduate of Westbury, takes control of the ISS on April 15, and has said the high expectations of her former HISD teachers fueled her space ambitions.

“We are proud to know that Dr. Walker’s HISD education inspired her to become involved in the space program and then become an astronaut,” HISD Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan said. “On Thursday, we will celebrate her promotion to Commander of the International Space Station. It is an honor that has been years in the making and is well deserved.”

Walker is taking over as commander as Russian commander Sergey Ryzhikov is leaving the station on April 16.

When Walker takes command, she will be making history as the first native Houstonian to be commander of the space station.

“We like to call Johnson Space Center the home of the astronauts, and all of them live here while they’re training and supporting human spaceflight,” said Johnson Space Center Director Mark Geyer. “But in Shannon’s case, she’s a homegrown Houstonian, and we couldn’t be prouder for our community to have her representing Space City as commander of the space station.”

Walker is a member of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission that flew to the space station on the Dragon spacecraft, the first commercial human spacecraft system. Her time as ISS commander will end later this month. She and her fellow Crew-1 astronauts are nearing the end of a six-month science mission that included research investigations.

Walker joined NASA in 1987 as a robotics flight controller for the space shuttle program. She began work on the ISS program in 1995 and was selected to become an astronaut in 2004. Walker completed her first spaceflight in 2010 for Expeditions 24 and 25 to the International Space Station.

She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in physics from Rice University in 1987. She later earned a Master of Science and a Ph.D. in physics from Rice.