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Astronaut Discusses Living, Working in Space

Aug. 23, 2010

      NASA mission specialist astronaut Don Thomas, Ph.D., will describe “Living and Working in Space” as part of the free Anne Arundel Community College Astronomy Club Open House and Stargazing Party on Saturday, Sept. 11, on the Arnold campus.

        Join club members in the Dragun Science Building Room 110 at 7 p.m. as Thomas, who is also a space station program scientist, relates his experience flying on four space shuttle missions, completing nearly 700 orbits of Earth and spending 44 days living and working in space. Find out what it’s like to launch and land, how astronauts eat, sleep and exercise, and view sights of Earth from 200 miles up.

        An Ohio native, Thomas earned an undergraduate degree in physics from Case Western Reserve University and a Master of Science degree and Doctorate in Materials Science from Cornell University. He worked as a senior member of the technical staff at Bell Laboratories from 1982-87 before joining NASA at the Johnson Space Center in Texas.

        In 1990, he was selected for NASA’s 13th group of astronauts and from 2003-2006 was the International Space Station Program Scientist responsible for planning and scheduling science activities aboard the International Space Station. He received numerous honors and awards, including a NASA Sustained Superior Performance Award, 1989; four NASA Group Achievement Awards, four NASA Space Flight Medals, two NASA Exceptional Service Medals and the NASA Distinguished Service Medal.

        Since 2007, Thomas has worked at Towson University. He directs the Hackerman Academy of Mathematics and Science, which is an outreach program targeting K-12 students to boost interest in math and science careers.

        Following his presentation, audience questions are welcome. Join Thomas and club members from 8-9 p.m. for a free dessert reception followed by a short walk across parking lot A/B for stargazing in the Astronomy Lab (observatory), weather permitting. The Astronomy weatherline is 410-777-1820. The Arnold campus is at 101 College Parkway.

        The AACC Astronomy Club meets about once a month to discuss upcoming events, news, conferences and recent findings; meetings are open to the community and followed by community stargazing sessions as weather permits. For information on this fall open house or the club or astronomy classes at AACC, visit or contact club faculty adviser Beth Hufnagel, Ph.D. AACC professor of astronomy, at or 410-777-2271.

Cutline: Photo courtesy of NASA.