Born: 1951, Adelaide, Australia
After completing a bachelor’s degree and PhD in mechanical engineering at the University of Adelaide, Andy Thomas took up a position as a research scientist with the Lockheed Aeronautical Systems Company. In 1989 he joined the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California and worked on NASA-sponsored research.
Thomas joined NASA in 1992 and after a year of training qualified for assignment on space flight crews and was appointed a member of the astronaut corps. He served as an Astronaut Support Person at the Kennedy Space Center and provided technical support for projects at the Marshall Space Flight Center. In June 1995 Thomas was selected for the crew of the STS-77 mission and made his first flight in space on the Endeavour in May 1996 during the 10-day mission.
Thomas then trained at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre in Russia. In 1998 he spent 141 days in space aboard the Russian space station Mir, enduring lengthy isolation, fire, and a collision with another spacecraft. In March 2001 while a member of the crew of Discovery which docked with Mir, he completed his first ‘space walk’. Thomas flew with Discovery again for a two week mission during July and August 2005.
Thomas has also served as Deputy Chief of NASA’s Astronaut Office.
1992: Selected for NASA training
1996: Crew member of the STS-77 mission aboard the Endeavour
1998: Served aboard the Russian space station Mir
1998: South Australian of the Year
2001: As crew member of Discovery, made first space walk while docked to Mir space station
2005: Second mission aboard Discovery
Thomas has been awarded various medals including the NASA Exceptional Service Medal, the Yuri Gagarin Medal and the Order of Friendship from Russia and Kazakhstan.
More by and about Andy Thomas
Australia’s Astronauts: Three Men and a Spaceflight Dream, Colin Burgess, Kangaroo Press, 1999.
Cosmos Magazine, ‘Rocket Man’, Karen McGhee, Issue 10, August/September 2006, http://www.cosmosmagazine.com/issues/2006/10/
The Adelaidean, ‘From Space Station Mir, With Love’, David Ellis, February 1998, http://www.adelaide.edu.au/script/adelaidean/archive/backissues/Adelaidean-1998-02-16.pdf
NASA, Andrew S Thomas, Biographical data, www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/htmlbios/thomas-a.html
State Library of SA, SA Memory, Andrew Thomas, http://www.samemory.sa.gov.au/site/page.cfm?u=450&c=3782
ABC Radio, Dimensions in Time, Interview with Andy Thomas, November 2002, http:// www.abc.net.au/dimensions/dimensions_in_time/Transcripts/s729958.htm
NASA Discovery: Return to Flight, STS 114 Crew and Mission, http://www.nasa.gov/returntoflight/crew/index.html
Photographs of 2005 space shuttle Discovery with Andy Thomas on board, http://shuttle.airshowjournal.com/sts114/