I think at some point most kids think: I want to be an Astronaut!! How cool would it be to be launched amount the stars and see the Earth from space? Many kids go through this phase, they might buy a telescope and dream up moon landings, but very few at the age of 6 decide: I’m going to be an Astronaut and actually go on to be one.
But Dr. Don Thomas did just that. He was a mere six years old on May 5, 1961, when the first Americans went into space and he thought: I want to do that. He served as an astronaut between 1994 and 1997 flew as a mission specialist on four different Space Shuttle missions (three on Columbia and one on Discovery flights), logging 44 days in space, completing nearly 700 orbits of the Earth and traveling some 20 million miles. His passion and drive to be an astronaut out paced some of the odds against him becoming one.
Now he has a new passion, educating students in STEM education. “In 2007 Don joined Towson University’s newly-formed Hackerman Academy of Mathematics and Science, an innovative outreach program that he directs and which is aimed at motivating elementary, middle, and high school students across Maryland in careers in math and science. ”
Nominated by Towson University as a Festival Nifty Fifty Speaker, read more about him here.
Interested in seeing a little bit about one of Dr. Don Thomas’s Space Shuttle Flight 83 and the experiments that they performed in space? Check out this video below! Growing protein crystals, combustion experiments, Hale-Bopp Comet and more! Did you ever dream of being an Astronaut as a child? Or a Scientist? How did you become interested in science?
Space Shuttle Flight 83
Courtesy National Space Society (www.nss.org). Space Shuttle Flight 83 (STS-83), narrated by the astronauts. Launch: April 4, 1997. Crew: James D. Halsell, Susan L. Still, Janice E. Voss, Donald A. Thomas, Michael L. Gernhardt, Roger Crouch, Greg Linteris.
The ‘Nifty Fifty’ are a group of noted professionals who will fan out across the Washington, DC area next October to speak about their work and careers at various middle and high schools. Are you a Festival Partner Organization? Then nominate a ‘Nifty Fifty’ speaker! Find out more about how to nominate a speaker here.