Taconic grad Wilson key link to success of first all-female spacewalk

Astronaut Stephanie Wilson, a 1984 graduate of Taconic High School in Pittsfield, has flown three space missions in her NASA career.

Taconic graduate Stephanie Wilson is returning to space as part of NASA’s new Artemis Moon missions.

Vice President Mike Pence announced Wednesday that Wilson would be among the group of 18 astronauts — nine men and nine women — going to the moon later this decade.

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Wilson graduated from Taconic High School in 1984 and received a bachelor of science degree in engineering science at Harvard University and master of science degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas.

This will be Wilson’s fourth trip into space. Her three previous trips took place in 2006, 2007 and 2010. She has logged more than 42 days in space throughout her career, more than any other African American astronaut.

The U.S. space agency plans to send a man and woman to the moon’s south pole in 2024, marking the first crewed landing since Apollo 17 in 1972.

Although Wilson has since relocated to Houston, she returned to the Berkshires in 2010 following a flight to a hero’s welcome.

On her previous trips to space, Wilson has taken a bit of the Berkshires with her. In 2007, Wilson brought “mementos” from the three Pittsfield schools she attended — Stearns, Crosby (then a middle school) and Taconic — as well as from Harvard and the University of Texas.

Wilson said she first became interested in space at age 13 while at Crosby. For an eighth grade project, Wilson was asked to interview someone in a career field she was drawn to, and she picked astronomer Jay Pasachoff, the Field Memorial Professor of Astronomy at Williams College.

She has also carried and returned mementos from Williams, the Berkshire County Historical Society at Arrowhead, the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, the Boys & Girls Club of the Berkshires and the Berkshire Music School.

Wilson boasts a slew of group and individual awards, as well as honorary doctorates from Williams, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and Smith College.

Honors Wilson has received include:

Harvard Foundation Scientist of the Year Award and Harvard College Women’s Professional Achievement Award, 2008

NASA Distinguished Service Medal, 2009 and 2011

Johnson Space Center Director’s Innovation Group Achievement Award and Johnson Space Center Director Commendation Award, 2013

University of Texas Distinguished Alumnus Award, 2015

Salem College Trailblazer Award, 2019