Originally from California, the 55-year-old gave up his engineering job at the Johnson Space Centre in Houston, where he worked on the space station, in 1988 to attend theologian school.
While having grown up in the church, Mr Wilson said the catalyst to pursue theological studies was the 1986 space shuttle Challenger disaster, which happened two weeks after he joined NASA.
‘After anything like that, everything just stops because they have to figure out what happened, so in the interim period I sort of thought ‘I don’t want to stay here anymore’,’ Mr Wilson said.
During his studies, Mr Wilson met his Perth-born wife and went on teach faith and values at St Stephen’s School in Duncraig for 13 years before returning last month to MLC, where he briefly taught in the mid-’90s.
Mr Wilson said staff and students spoke to him about faith and guidance, as well as science, and he was often faced with the perennial question of whether the moon landing was real.
‘Yes they did it ” the bloody flag moved because the rocket engine went off and that’s when they left’