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Aussie astronaut to speak in Perth

NASA portrait photo of Dr Andy Thomas

Australian-born NASA astronaut Dr Andy Thomas will give a public lecture at Curtin University in Perth, Western Australia, on September 14, 2010.

Adelaide-born NASA astronaut Dr Andy Thomas will visit Australia in September, and one of the highlights will be a public lecture in Perth on the 14th.

Although he wasn’t the first Australian-born person to join NASA as an astronaut—that honour goes to Philip Chapman during the Apollo era—and although he wasn’t the first Australian-born person to fly in space—that honour goes to Paul Scully-Power, who flew aboard the space shuttle as an oceanographer in 1984—Andy Thomas was the first Aussie to fly in space as a professional astronaut and a member of NASA’s permanent astronaut corps.

Dr Thomas’ visit to Australia is an initiative of the Fogarty Foundation, a leading philanthropic and education organisation in Western Australia that engages leaders in their field to speak about their achievements and their passions and encourages others to take leading roles in our community.

The Fogarty Foundation is working in conjunction with The University of Western Australia, Curtin University, the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR), Scitech, UWA’s Aspire program, the UWA/WA Department of Education teachers’ enrichment program (SPICE) and the US Consul General to enable Dr Thomas to speak with scholars and scientists, primary and secondary students and teachers and interested members of the public.

While in Perth one of his engagements will be a public lecture at Curtin University with a planned hook-up to the International Space Station (ISS), during which students will have a chance to quiz the Station astronauts. Australia has very restricted access to the International Space Station and this is a great opportunity co-inciding with his visit to Perth. If communications allow, Dr Thomas will speak to his wife Shannon Walker who is also an astronaut, and is presently aboard the International Space Station.

Dr Thomas’ public lecture details are as follows:

  • Date: Tuesday 14 September 2010
  • Time: 6.00pm – 7.30pm
  • Venue: Elizabeth Jolley Lecture Theatre, Building 210, Curtin University, Kent Street, Bentley
  • Register: or (08) 9266 2563 by Thursday 9 September 2010
  • RSVP is essential. Limit of 6 tickets per booking.

More details here.

Andy Thomas performing a spacewalk

Andy Thomas performed a spacewalk during shuttle mission STS-102.

Andy Thomas biography

After completing his studies, Thomas accepted an offer from Lockheed in Atlanta. By 1990 he was the company’s principal aerodynamic scientist. His career continued in the field, steering towards more senior research positions.

Thomas was selected by NASA in March 1992 and reported to the Johnson Space Centre in August 1992. In August 1993, following one year of training, he was appointed a member of the astronaut corps and was qualified for assignment as a mission specialist on Space Shuttle flight crews.

While awaiting space flight assignment, Thomas supported shuttle launch and landing operations as an Astronaut Support Person (ASP) at the Kennedy Space Centre. He also provided technical support to the Space Shuttle Main Engine project, the Solid Rocket Motor project and the External Tank project at the Marshall Space Flight Centre.

In June 1995, Thomas was named as payload commander for STS-77 and flew his first flight in space on Endeavour in May 1996. Although Paul D. Scully-Power had entered orbit as an oceanographer in 1985, Thomas was the first Australia-born professional astronaut to enter space.

Thomas next trained at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre in Star City, Russia in preparation for a long-duration flight. In 1998, he served as Board Engineer 2 aboard the Russian Space Station Mir for 130 days.

From August 2001 to November 2003, Thomas served as Deputy Chief of NASA’s Astronaut Office. He completed his fourth space flight on STS-114 and has logged over 177 days in space.

He is currently working for the Exploration Branch of NASA’s Astronaut Office.

Adapted from information issued by ICRAR / Curtin University / NASA.

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