How a Father’s Inspiration Leads Employee to NASA

Published 9:38 am Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Anita Wilson could not hold back the tears as she reflected on the journey from her earliest space memory to now working at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.

As a young girl, the Slidell, Louisiana, native was kept home from school, free from the distraction of friends, to witness NASA astronaut Neil Armstrong set foot on the Moon on July 20, 1969. It was a monumental moment for America and proved to be a treasured memory for Wilson.

“Back then, I was so upset my dad would not let me go to class, but now, when I look back, I see how truly special that moment was, how truly special he was,” Wilson said.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Her father knew about the benefits of working with anything NASA-related. He had a love for space and worked at the Slidell Computer Complex, opened by NASA in 1962.

Wilson recalled, “He used to push me all the time and tell me, ‘You have to work for NASA. You have to work for NASA.’”

For over three decades, Wilson worked as a financial analyst for Lockheed Martin to support NASA’s space shuttle efforts at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans before moving to NASA Stennis in 2006.

The Picayune, Mississippi, resident continued as a contract worker until 2020. Fifty-one years to the day that Wilson watched NASA step foot on the Moon, she was hired by NASA as a management and program analyst on July 20, 2020.

“It was finally done – the thing he wanted me to do most,” Wilson said. “It was a dream come true.”

The dream was realized during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, so Wilson learned how to navigate her new role with NASA in a remote setting on the computer. What made the transition smoother was that “everybody works together to get the job done,” she said.

“We are a team, and everybody’s like family at NASA Stennis,” Wilson said.

In her current role, Wilson provides budget analysis for commercial test projects, helping NASA inspire the world through discovery. She works with companies, such as Relativity Space and Launcher, already operating onsite at NASA Stennis, as well as the latest commercial company to locate at NASA Stennis, Evolution Space.

Having achieved her father’s dream for his daughter, Wilson is now fully invested in the Artemis era, ready to add another treasured memory as NASA sends the first woman and first person of color to the Moon.

“I just feel like (being hired by NASA), that’s my greatest achievement as far as my career goes,” she said.

S23-071 Anita Wilson photo cutline: NASA budget analyst Anita Wilson supports commercial test projects at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.


C. Lacy Thompson Stennis Space Center, Bay St. Louis, Mississippi 228-363-5499 NASA’s Stennis Space Center, located near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, is a federal city operated by NASA since 1961. As many as 40 onsite agencies, organizations, universities, and companies share operating costs, while pursuing individual missions, as a model of fiscal efficiency. If their combined workforces of about 5,000 employees were counted as a single entity, Stennis would rank among the Top 10 Mississippi companies in size. The site is a major economic engine for the Gulf Coast region, with an average direct annual impact of more than $625 million within a 50-mile radius.