The Journey to 1,000 Hours in Space

Dr. Don Thomas, Space Shuttle Astronaut - NASA

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Growing up, Don Thomas always dreamed of becoming an astronaut. But the journey to space wasn't an easy one. Through years of hard work, studying, and learning new skills, Don's perseverance landed him his dream job of becoming a NASA Space Shuttle astronaut.

Recorded live at IMTS 2022 in Chicago, we have a fascinating discussion with Dr. Thomas about his journey to becoming an astronaut, his four science missions in space, and what the future of space exploration could look like for students interested in becoming scientists and astronauts themselves.

Learn more about Dr. Thomas and his missions to space:

3 Big Takeaways from this episode:

  1. Perseverance is key to success: Don's journey to becoming an astronaut wasn't an easy one. While he faced multiple rejected applications from NASA, he kept persevering. By studying the data, building relevant skills and trying again and again, he was finally able to land his dream job. This is a great story and lesson for anyone - especially students!
  2. NASA needs experts in all STEM fields to run successful missions: Three of Don's four missions to space were science missions. With a PhD in Materials Science, his expertise was well-suited to run experiments around sustaining life in zero-gravity. But NASA astronauts and control center teams come from a variety of STEM backgrounds - engineers, scientists, mathematicians, computer scientists, technologists, data analysts and so much more. For any student who loves space and dreams of working for NASA one day - finding a relevant STEM field and becoming an expert is a great pathway!
  3. The next few decades will see unprecedented space exploration: With the combined efforts of NASA and private space companies, humans will take new strides in space exploration in the coming decades. From building a base on the moon to landing humans on Mars, the sky is the limit. Don shares his thoughts and predictions on what's to come in the future, including the Artemis missions and the incredible opportunity today's kids have to become tomorrow's astronauts.


To learn more about Dr. Don Thomas, visit his website:

Did you know Don wrote a book about the All-Ohio mission? He shares some interesting anecdotes from the mission in our conversation, and you can read about the entire thing in his book Orbit of Discovery: The All-Ohio Space Shuttle Mission.

Educators: Don spends time sharing his story and expertise with students through a variety of educational events and opportunities. To learn more about engaging Dr. Thomas with your school, visit this page.

Connect with Dr. Thomas on social media!

Facebook  |  Twitter


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