Charleston County Public Library to host NASA Astronaut Don Thomas

Charleston County Public Library (CCPL) will host retired NASA astronaut Don Thomas for a special STEM talk on Thursday, August 30 at 6:15 p.m. at the Main Library, located at 68 Calhoun St. in downtown Charleston. Thomas is a former NASA astronaut who flew on four Space Shuttle missions. During his career, he spent 44 days in space and orbited the Earth 692 times. His presentation will feature his experiences living and working in space, along with some of his favorite images of our planet that were taken from space. Thomas will discuss NASA’s newest rocket, called the Space Launch System, as well as some of the future missions NASA hopes to complete with these rockets, such as sending astronauts to Mars.

Thomas was born May 6, 1955, in Cleveland, Ohio. He graduated from Cleveland Heights High School, Cleveland Heights, Ohio, in 1973; received a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics from Case Western Reserve University in 1977, a Master of Science degree and a Doctorate in Materials Science from Cornell University in 1980 and 1982, respectively.

Selected by NASA in January 1990, Thomas became an astronaut in July 1991. He was CAPCOM (spacecraft communicator) for shuttle missions STS-47, 52 and 53. From July 1999 to June 2000 he was Director of Operations for NASA at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia.

A veteran of four Space Shuttle flights, Don Thomas logged more than 1,040 hours in space on the following missions:

·         STS-65: Set a new flight duration record for the Space Shuttle program. The mission flew the second International Microgravity Laboratory (IML-2). During the 15-day flight the crew conducted more than 80 experiments focusing on materials and life sciences research in microgravity. Mission duration was 353 hours and 55 minutes, traveling 6.1 million miles in 236 orbits of the Earth.

·         STS-70: During this mission, Thomas was responsible for the deployment of the sixth and final Tracking and Data Relay Satellite from the Space Shuttle. Mission duration was 214 hours and 20 minutes, traveling 3.7 million miles in 142 orbits of the Earth.

·         STS-83: The STS-83 Microgravity Science Laboratory (MSL-1) Spacelab mission, was cut short because of problems with one of the Shuttle’s three fuel cell power generation units. Mission duration was 95 hours and 12 minutes, traveling 1.5 million miles in 63 orbits of the Earth.

·         STS-94: This mission was a re-flight of the Microgravity Science Laboratory (MSL-1) Spacelab mission, and focused on materials and combustion science research in microgravity. Mission duration was 376 hours and 45 minutes, traveling 6.3 million miles in 251 orbits of the Earth.

Thomas retired from NASA in July 2007 and now supports the Space Launch System program.

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