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  CLAYTON C. 'Clay' ANDERSON - the first NEBRASKA Astronaut   
'Clay' grew up in Ashland NE, along with
his sister, Lorie, and brother, Kirby
 
scroll down for more information about Clay and his family
You can even  Clay !
MANY events & "happenings" have occurred in the life of
Clay Anderson - Ashland's Home Town Astronaut, since his visit
and gala reception at Willow Point Gallery on June 18th 2010
 
We are including several pictures, links to news articles 
and other items we hope you will enjoy !
 
    
Clay's retirement photo - 31 January 2013 - Clay & Susan at his retirement dinner
 
 
 
Clay at the Smithsonian - having fun ! . . & . . Clay the tank wrangler !
 
 
CLAY . . . as ASHLAND's SUPERMAN !
 
    
Clay in photos with the crews of STS 117 and STS 131
 
     
Clay meets President Bush following his first mission * Clay & crew meet with Pope Benedict following a mission
 
     
Clays caricature 'face on the bar room floor' Omaha Press Club (left)
Clay with Jeff Raikes and Chris Greene, Ashland-Greenwood classmates at the unveiling of Clay's caricature NOV 2010 (right)
 
 
from left, Kirby & Lorie, Clay's brother & sister and Clay at the dedication of Jack Anderson Ball Park
The ball park was named in honor of their father, who was huge supporter & fan of youth baseball in Ashland
 
an old time baseball game was played with the "Wahoo Ploughboys" as part of the celebration
     
 

CLAY returns to his 'hometown' of ASHLAND NE
We proudly welcomed Clay 'home' on June 18th, 2010
 
Reprint of Suzi Nelson's > Ashland Gazette article- June 1oth 2010
announcing Clay's Homecoming at Willow Point Gallery, June 18th
 
 
Clay awaits his introduction, with Ashland Artist Gene Roncka & his wife Mary
to present the Towers Of History Ornament, that Clay took on STS-131
The community of Ashland, together with guests from Omaha, Lincoln, Fremont
and other NE communities, as well as from as far away as FL, gathered to
'greet and meet' Clay again, for his official presentation of the Towers of History
ornament, that Clay took with him on the STS-131 Mission on April 5th of 2010
 
Clay presented the Towers of Historyornament to Mayor Paul Lienke and
 
the City of Ashland. The Towers of History is a project that will showcase local
 
history by the non-profit Ashland Area Foundation, a 501 (c) 3 corporation
The first ornament, pictured above, is the first in a series produced by local artist
 
Gene Roncka of Willow Point Gallery, with proceeds directed to the project.
 
The second ornament is NOW available **
Clay approved the design, while on his STS-131 Mission
 
** The second ornament is NOW AVAILABLE !
the 1st ornament is also available at Willow Point Gallery
 
 
 
OTHER PHOTOS of Clay's return to Ashland and NE
Clay speaking to the guests at Willow Point Gallery - June 18 2010
   
left: Clay in group picture with former AGPS classmates
right: Clay presents items that accompanied him on STS-131
to his sister Lorie (Anderson) Hartzell and his brother, Kirby Anderson
 
 
MORE photosof Clay with sister Lorie and brother Kirby
  
Clay greets Art Laughlin (left) , lifelong resident of Ashland & friend ow Clay & his family
Clay greets Pastor J. Milton Bryarly (right), former Pastor of First Christian Church, Clay's home church
  
Clay greets the Wild family, Virginia and Paul - neighbors & friends of Clay from his youth
"The Anderson's" and "The Wild's" lived less than a block apart, during Clay's youth
the families were very close friends & active members of First Christian Church
Pictured with them are Elizabeth 'Liz' (Wild) Starkey from FL and Tom Wild of Lincoln
'Liz' had traveled from FL to be with her dad, Paul,
on the occasions of his 83rd Birthday and Fathers Day
 
 
Astronaut Clayton Anderson chats with Madalyn Spellman, 7, Aurora NE,
during a visit WED, June 16th, to Children's Hospital & Medial Center in Omaha NE
with grateful acknowledgment, photo by Omaha World Herald (17JUN2010)
   RECAP of Clay's HOMECOMING - June 18, 2010   
 
as seen in the Ashland Gazette
 
Reprint of June 24th 2010 Ashland Gazette article by Suzi Nelson - published following the event
 
Clay with Suzi Nelson of the Ashland Gazette
at the NE State Capitol reception, on his return
 
Clay presents NE State flag he took with him on his latest mission in space
 
Clay was kind enough to send a 'thank YOU' e-mail to
 
click above  ^  ^  ^  to see Clay's email message

CLAYTON ANDERSON - the first NEBRASKA Astronaut
You can even     Clay !
 
 
 
Image above: Space shuttle Discovery lifts off Launch Pad 39A into the predawn darkness
to begin the STS-131 mission - April 5, 2010. Image credit Scott Andrews
    THE COUNTDOWN BEGAN . . . AGAIN ! !     
    The Mission is Complete     
 
TOUCH DOWN ! Clay returns home !
 
 
Images above: Space shuttle Discovery touches down and rolls along the Shuttle Landing
Facility runway, Tue April 20 2010, at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Image credit: NASA/Sandra Joseph and Kevin O'Connell

Clay Anderson, addressing the press, at a news conference following
the successful mission of STS-131 and the Discovery shuttle
 
    TUESDAY, APRIL 20  2010   

  • Clayton C. “Clay” Anderson and STS-131 Crew
  • RETURN from their Mission! * Discovery Succesfully Returns From Space

 

SUMMARY:

Launch: 6:21 a.m. EDT - April 5, 2010
Landing: 9:08 a.m. EDT - April 20, 2010
Orbiter: Discovery
Mission Number: STS-131
(131st space shuttle flight)
Launch Window: 10 minutes
Launch Pad: 39A
Mission Duration:
15 days, 2 hours, 47 minutes, 10 seconds
Landing Site: Kennedy Space Center (KSC)
Inclination/Altitude: 51.6 degrees/122 nautical miles
Primary Payload: 33rd station flight (19A), Multi-Purpose Logistics Module


The following is a reprint of the MON, April 26, 2010 interview with Clay

 By Suzi Nelson of the Ashland Gazette

 

Published: Thursday, April 29, 2010 3:10 AM CDT

LEAGUE CITY, Texas – Clay Anderson is still a little tired.

Two weeks in space can do that to a guy.

“I’m still a little whooped,” he said Monday night from his home outside of Houston.

The Ashland native recently completed his second mission in space,

with a picture-perfect landing on April 20 onboard the space shuttle Discovery.

Anderson was part of a seven-person crew that spent 15 days in space, much of it at the International Space Station,

where they were busy fortifying the space station with equipment.

 

They delivered new crew sleeping quarters and supplies.

It was Anderson’s second trip to space. In 2007, he spent five months onboard the space station.

Returning to his former home was thrilling. It felt like he’d never been gone.

“I felt very much at home when I got there,” he said.

Anderson got to not only visit his former home, but one of the Russian astronauts he had worked with three years ago, Oleg Kotov,

was also onboard. The two hugged and reminisced about old times, as they relaxed together for a few short hours.

“I didn’t get to spend as much time with him as I would have liked,” he said.

That’s because Anderson was busy. He and Rick Mastracchio conducted three spacewalks to install a new ammonia storage tank

for the station’s cooling system, replace a gyroscope for the navigation system and retrieve a Japanese experiment from the station’s exterior.

The 20-plus hours Anderson accumulated during the spacewalks have put him at

No. 22 on the list of astronauts who have spent time outside of a spacecraft.

These spacewalks weren’t without their challenges. While the first and third were fine, issues arose on the second spacewalk,

but nothing a little teamwork and persistence couldn’t solve.

As Anderson and Mastracchio attempted to tighten bolts to attach the new ammonia tank to the station,

the “soft dock” mechanism failed to align properly.

“We couldn’t get the ammonia tank to go on,” Anderson said.

Bolts could not be tightened. Experts on the ground offered alternative solutions, including Anderson banging a tool against the tank.

That didn’t work. Eventually, the astronauts were directed to loosen the bolts.

As soon as they did, the troublesome soft dock slipped into place as Anderson uttered, “Come on baby.”

The astronauts then re-tightened the four bolts. The fourth was a little sticky,

but they ratcheted up the torque on the power tool and it eventually was tightened properly.

“Git ‘er done!” Anderson exclaimed as the project neared completion.

Many Nebraskans know that phrase from the comedian Larry the Cable Guy. Anderson talked to Larry (aka Dan Whitney)

before the mission and promised he’d find a time and place to use Whitney’s signature phrase while in space.

“I thought it was very appropriate,” Anderson said.

Anderson also found appropriate times to don Husker gear in and out of the spacecraft.

Many photos taken on the shuttle and station show him with Husker shirts and hats on, including one shot

of the shuttle taken by the station crew where Anderson can be seen in the windows.

Anderson even found a place for a Husker “N” during his spacewalks.

He requested a blank page on his checklist, which is located on his wrist like a quarterback’s playlist.

 

 

ALWAYS A HUSKER:  Clay Anderson takes part in one of three spacewalks during the recently completed STS-131 mission.

The Ashland native included the Husker “N” in the spacewalk checklist on his sleeve to show where his loyalties lie. (Photo Courtesy of NASA)

 

On that blank page, he glued a big red “N” that is visible in at least one photograph.

The launch and landing were new for Anderson, even though he’d gone through these experiences before.

“I think I was more aware of what was going on, more prepared,” he said. “I tried to take in as many sensations as I could this time, so I could cement it in my brain.”

His harness was a bit tight for the launch, causing some discomfort, however.

“This one was a little tight on my chest,” he said.

Once they were successfully launched, it was Anderson’s job to get out of his harness and start preparations so work could begin.

He and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Naoko Yamazaki turned on the lights, got the communications system set up

and completed other tasks quickly so they and the rest of the crew could get out of the orange flight suits.

Work began right away and the astronauts ended up putting in a 17-hour work day.

The landing proved to be eventful, given that they made three attempts in two days that were thwarted by weather.

Each time, the crew had to get suited up and strapped in, then wait about 90 minutes before learning if they could land.

 

By the fourth one, Anderson was confident it would be the one.

“I said, ‘We’re going home today, I can feel it in my bones,’” he recalled.

He was right, and the crew came home on a sunny Florida morning with their families right there

on the runway as they made their final descent.

“I saw all of our families waving,” he said.

He had to wait a few hours before he could actually hug his family, though.

It takes nearly 30 minutes to get the astronauts

out of the shuttle, then relax for a bit and don their blue flightsuits.

A short press conference followed, then they were transported to a building where they eventually

saw their families for a few minutes before showering and undergoing physicals.

Later that day, Anderson was reunited with wife Sue and children Sutton and Cole.

They were taken to a condo NASA had set up for them on the beach.

“We felt the breeze, watched the waves,” Anderson said.

A short nap for Anderson was included, then his sister Lorie Hartzell and her husband, Phil,

joined them for pizza and champagne.

“It was a really relaxing evening,” he said.

The next day, the crew and their families flew back to Houston, where a welcome home ceremony took place.

The family visited their favorite Mexican restaurant that evening.

A day off followed where Anderson and his wife worked in the yard and ran errands.

By Friday, it was back to work with debriefings and meetings.

The crew got a chance to make recommendations to NASA, and Anderson’s included “getting rid of the soft docks,” he said.

Next up for Anderson will be more debriefings.

The schedule of public appearances will kick off in early May, wrapping up in mid-July.

He anticipates most of his events will be in the Midwest, and is sure he’ll make it back to Ashland more than once.

“I’m sure I’ll be home to Ashland and Nebraska a few times,” he said.

Then it will be decision time for Anderson and his family.

NASA will have a position for him, and he will have to decide if he wants to take it, or if it is time to move on.

If he moves on, there are many options.

“I’d like to write a book,” he said.

Right now, he’s not sure what the future holds for him, and for that matter,

what the future holds for NASA, given the president’s new directives.

 

Whatever it is, it will be a family decision.

“Sue and I will assess what we need to do,” he said.

Until then, Anderson is taking time to look back on his latest accomplishments.

“I want to bask in the glory of coming home safely and spend some time with my family,” he said.

We again wish to gratefully acknowledge the reprinted article above, compiled from Suzi Nelson's APR 26th interview with Clay Anderson,

and published in the ASHLAND GAZETTE on April 29, 2010


 

In the White Room of Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the members of space shuttle Discovery's STS-131 crew take time out from their training for a group portrait. Kneeling, from left, are Commander Alan Poindexter, Pilot James P. Dutton Jr., and Mission Specialist Naoko Yamazaki of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. Standing, from left, are Mission Specialists Clayton Anderson, Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger, Rick Mastracchio and Stephanie Wilson.
Image credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett
photos and news updates courtesy of www.NASA.gov

STS-131 is the 33rd shuttle mission to the station.

photo above courtesy of www.NASA.gov

 

PURPOSE OF MISSION

STS-131 will be delivering experiment racks to the International Space Station.

The experiment racks – the window observational research facility and the

muscle atrophy research and exercise system rack – are pretty much exactly what they sound like.

The window observational research facility is designed to beef up the work that astronauts

are able to do looking out the window of the Destiny laboratory by adding cameras,

multispectral and hyperspectral scanners, camcorders and sensors.

With those instruments, the crew will be able to study global climates,

land and sea formations and crop weather damage like never before.

Meanwhile, the muscle atrophy research and exercise system rack – or MARES –;

will give the crew members a way to assess the strength of their muscles while in space.


 
CLAYTON C. ANDERSON
 
 
 
   Astronaut
 
 
 
 
 

CLAY RETURNS to SPACE!
A brief review of the announcement of Clay's second mission

It was announced recently, that Clay will be part of a Shuttle Mission soon.
Clay received a message on his Blackberry on Halloween morning, 2008.
Clay will be returning to space in 2010, as a mission specialist on STS-131.
 
 
STS-131 Patch ^ worn by each crew member
Clay's new mission will be for 14 days with 3 space walks
 

 
 

Click on the BLACK > below for the Movie PREVIEW:

"HOMEMADE ASTRONAUT: The Clay Anderson Story"

NET Television presented the documentary

"Homemade Astronaut" which first 'aired '

Sun eve - June 7th - 6:00 pm on NET1/NET-HD.

The DVD edition of Homemade Astronaut - The Clay Anderson Story is available at:

NET NEBRASKA STORE  < LINK

 

We are grateful to Nebraska's NET1/TNET-HD TV for producing and providing this important historical DVD

LEARN MORE about here >  NET NEBRASKA TELEVISION

  CLAY served aboard the International Space Station for 152 days in 2007 

 

After months in space he reflected on his life’s blessings:

"I have missed you all deeply,"

Anderson wrote to his family in his final journal entry from orbit.

 "There has not been a day that’s gone by where I have not thought of you,

prayed for you and smiled because of you.

We have done this together as a family and we are stronger because of it."


Clay Anderson likes to take photographs.

His favorite subject? The Earth.

 

 

The Ashland native has about 30,000 digital photos of our blue marble planet

he took during his 152-day stay on International Space Station in 2007,

his first trip into space.

Nebraska's only astronaut is training for another space launch, this one set for March 18.

NOTE: actual Launch was delayed - successfully deployed April 5th - see above

 

But he won't "get anywhere close " to shooting 30,000 photographs.

Anderson, who grew up and spent his early school years in Ashland,

will be a mission specialist on the space shuttle Discovery.

A second trip into space is something he didn't expect after he returned from his first mission.

"Given that the shuttle program would be winding down, I didn't know if I would be given the opportunity to fly again, and there were a lot of young astronauts coming ... and they deserve an opportunity to fly as well," Anderson said Monday (15FEB2010).

NASA has the 51-year-old down for three spacewalks to replace an 1,800-pound ammonia tank assembly,

retrieve a Japanese experiment from the station's exterior and switch out a rate gyro assembly, an electronic

box that helps the station maintain its position in space.

 

The training for the spacewalks has been intense.

Astronauts spend about five hours in a deep swimming pool (which simulates zero gravity)

for every hourthey are going to walk in space.

One of the spacewalks will require Anderson to ride on the end of the shuttle's robotic arm,

something he did during his first mission, when he jettisoned a refrigerator-sized object into space.

 

Anderson is eager to return to the orbital outpost. In his training journal entries,

he calls it his second home and its crew his second family.

And he's looking forward to seeing his "space brother" Oleg Kotov, his Russian crewmate on board the station in 2007.

"When you spend five months with a guy living in a can, you get to be pretty close," Anderson said.

"We had some wonderful times together. We laughed a lot.

We talked about our families. We discussed the state of the world. We just had a wonderful time."

Anderson's mother, Alice, traveled to Florida to watch her son's first launch.

She died in December 2007, shortly after he returned. His father, John, died in 1984.

"She and Dad will be both watching and they will have a pretty good view I think ... of course,

I would prefer to have them there in person," Anderson said.

"They live inside me, and I carry their memory with me wherever I go.

They helped make me the person I am today, and so for that I'm eternally grateful."

Anderson's family was anxious about his first launch. Two shuttles have exploded in the past.

They're handling it better this time around, he said.

His 13-year-old son, Cole, is proud of his father, Anderson said, even though "he's been there and done that."

 

The article above is reprinted with grateful acknowledgement to the Lincoln Journal Star - Lincoln NE

By ALGIS J. LAUKAITIS / Lincoln Journal Star | Posted: Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Clayton C. "Clay" Anderson, NASA Astronaut

BIOGRAPHICAL DATA: Born February 23, 1959 in Omaha, Nebraska. He considers Ashland, Nebraska to be his hometown. Married to the former Susan Jane Harreld of Elkhart, Indiana. They have two children; a son, Clayton “Cole” and a daughter, Sutton Marie. Clay’s mother, Alice J. Anderson, and father, John T. "Jack" Anderson, are deceased. Susan’s parents are Jack and Mary Harreld of Bella Vista, Arkansas. Recreational interests include: officiating College and High School basketball; participation in all sports; coaching youth sports; flying; reading; writing music; playing the piano/organ and vocal performance. As an undergraduate he competed on the football, basketball and track teams.

EDUCATION:Graduated from Ashland-Greenwood High School, Ashland, Nebraska, 1977; received a bachelor of science degree (Cum Laude) in Physics from Hastings College, Nebraska in 1981 and a master of science degree in Aerospace Engineering from Iowa State University in 1983.

ORGANIZATIONS:Southwest Basketball Officials Association; Former Men’s College Basketball Official: Red River Athletic, Southern Collegiate Athletic, Heart of Texas, Lone Star, and Texas/New Mexico Junior College Athletic Conferences; Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA); Johnson Space Center Employee Activities Association: Vice President of Athletics (1987-1992); Clear Lake Optimist Club Past President and Vice President. Alpha Chi National Scholastic Honor Society, Hastings College, Hastings Nebraska (1980-1981).

SPECIAL HONORS: Honorary Doctorate Degree from Hastings College, 2004;
Distinguished Alumnus Award, National Council of Alpha Chi 2001;
NASA Quality and Safety Achievement Recognition (QASAR) Award 1998;
NCAA National Christian College Basketball Championships Official (1997, 1998);
JSC Certificate of Commendation (1993);
Outstanding Young Man of America (1981, 1985, 1987);
Bronco Award Winner, Hastings College (1981);
Honorary Doctorate Degree from Hasting College, Hastings NE, 2004;
Given the Key to the City by the Mayor of Ashland NE (2008);
Given the honor of February 29th being Clay Anderson day in the State of Nebraska (2008);
Given the Outstanding Alumni Award of Hastings College on March 2, 2008;
Received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Iowa State University on April 11, 2008

NASA EXPERIENCE: Anderson joined the Johnson Space Center in 1983 in the Mission Planning and Analysis Division where he performed rendezvous and proximity operations trajectory designs for early Space Shuttle and Space Station missions. In 1988 he moved to the Mission Operations Directorate (MOD) as a Flight Design Manager leading the trajectory design team for the Galileo planetary mission (STS-34) while serving as the backup for the Magellan planetary mission (STS-31). In 1989, Anderson was chosen supervisor of the MOD Ascent Flight Design Section and following reorganization, the Flight Design Engineering Office of the Flight Design and Dynamics Division. In 1993 he was named the Chief of the Flight Design Branch. From 1996 until his selection Anderson held the post of Manager, Emergency Operations Center, NASA Johnson Space Center.

Selected as a mission specialist by NASA in June 1998, he reported for training in August of that year. Training included orientation briefings and tours, numerous scientific and technical briefings, intensive instruction in Shuttle and International Space Station (ISS) systems, physiological training, ground school to prepare for T-38 flight training, as well as learning water and wilderness survival techniques.

Prior to being assigned to a space flight Anderson served as the lead for the Enhanced Caution and Warning (ECW) System development effort within the Space Shuttle Cockpit Avionics Upgrade (CAU) Project. Previously, he was the Crew Support Astronaut for ISS Expedition 4, providing ground support on technical issues in addition to supporting the crew families. Anderson also served as an ISS Capsule Communicator (CAPCOM) and as the Astronaut Office crew representative for the Station's electrical power system. In November of 2002, Anderson completed training in the Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Skills program. He also served as back-up Flight Engineer for Expeditions 12, 13 and 14 to the Station. He recently completed his first space flight and has logged 152 days in space and over 18 EVA hours in 3 spacewalks.

SPACE FLIGHT EXPERIENCE:
In 2007, Clay Anderson spent a five month tour of duty working aboard the International Space Station. He launched to the Station on June 8, 2007 aboard Shuttle Atlantis with the crew of STS-117. Docking with the Station on flight day 3, he replaced Suni Williams as the Expedition 15 Flight Engineer and also assumed the role of Science Officer for the Expedition. During his 152 day stint onboard the ISS, Anderson performed 3 spacewalks, two with crewmembers of STS-118, totaling 18 hours, 01 minutes. During his ‘stage’ EVA, Anderson jettisoned (disposed of) two pieces of space hardware, including the Early Ammonia Servicer (EAS) weighing in at over 1400 lbs. and a piece of “onboard support equipment”creating space satellites “Nebraska 1 and Nebraska 2.”
In addition, Anderson operated the Robotic Manipulator Canadarm2 to move the Station’s Pressurized Mating Adapter (PMA) 3
to the Node 1 nadir (earth pointing) docking port in preparation for the arrival
of Node 2 “Harmony” delivered by the crew of STS-120. Anderson returned home aboard
Shuttle Discovery as a member of the STS-120 crew, landing at KSC on November 7, 2007.

Above is a JANUARY 2008 update
We are grateful to the NASA website for the information contained herein.
Acknowledgements: The NASA web site is www.nasa.gov
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center
Houston, Texas 77058
Biographical Data Clayton Anderson, Astronaut

       Remembering Alice J. Anderson, Clay's "Mom"

 
We were deeply saddened to learn of the passing
of Alice J. Anderson, Mother of Clayton, Kirby & Lorie,
on the 13th of December 2007.
A Memorial & Celebration of Life Service for Alice
was held on TUE, the 18th of December at the First Christian Church,
Pastor Reverend J. Milton Bryarly, officiating.
The family requests memorials to First Christian of Ashland
or the Ashland Public Library
 
Each Ashland resident, the members of First Christian Church - Ashland
& countless others were touched by the host of things that Alice did
in & for the Ashland community and her beloved church, where she
served as a humble & tireless Saint during her lifetime with us.
We each & all are comforted by knowing that Alice is
"Home for Christmas" with Jesus and her husband, Jack
May we remember to keep Alice & her family in our prayers
for their comfort and thanksgiving for her being.
Message prepared by Pastor Reverend J. Milton Bryarly, Intentional Interim Pastor - First Christian Church
Alice served as an Officer of the Ashland Historical Society - Saline Ford Historical Preservation Society,
the Ashland Arts Council and numerous other committees, organizations in Ashland NE

Clayton Anderson's ISS Expedition Journal: Post Flight Epilogue
Epilogue: “I Miss You, Mom….”

On November 7, 2007, the Space Shuttle Discovery glided to a picture perfect landing at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) near Cape Canaveral, Florida. I was strapped in to the center seat on the Space Shuttle’s middeck, resting comfortably on my back as she had executed her first role reversal, an energy reducing maneuver, directly over the state of Nebraska on her way to Florida. My 152-day journey in space that began with a thunderous launch onboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis on what would have been my father’s 77th birthday, had come to an end as we gently touched down on Runway 15 and rolled to a stop directly on the runway centerline. That monumental day marked not only the completion of 151 days, 18 hours, 23 minutes and 14 seconds for me in space, but the 15th wedding anniversary for Susan and me.

Just a mere 12 hours later, I was gingerly navigating the confined space of my private room in the astronaut crew quarters (ACQ) facility at KSC to enjoy my first hot shower in over five months! After spending 45 minutes with the warm water pelting my head, shoulders and arms, I slowly dressed myself in my NASA astronaut flight suit feeling like I weighed every single bit of my 195 pounds fully realizing I was back in the gripping confines of the Earth’s gravity! Having grunted and groaned, stretched and tugged to get my flight boots on and properly tied, I carefully rose from my chair and eventually emerged from my room to begin a slow, methodical and “wall-aided” walk down the hallway.

Image to right: Mrs. Alice J. Anderson, the mother of astronaut Clay Anderson, Expedition 15 flight engineer, tours the turf of the Kennedy Space Center, site of the launch of the Space Shuttle Atlantis Photo credit: NASA/Allan DuPont
Image to left:Astronaut Clay Anderson, Expedition 15 flight engineer, visits with his mother as the day nears for his launch aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis with the STS-117 crew
Photo credit: NASA/Lorie (Anderson) Hartzell - Clay's Sister
      
Photos are of Clay & his mother Alice J. Anderson, taken in June of 2007, prior to the launch of STS 117

Moving with a determination bolstered by 5 months in outer space and keeping my head steady so as to not start the world spinning again and send me headfirst into a face plant with the carpeted (but concrete) floor, I closed the distance between me and one of the main ACQ lounge areas prepared to fulfill one of the greatest days of my lifetime. As I entered the room I was reunited with my wonderful family. Not just my beautiful wife Susan and our children Cole and Sutton mind you, but my brother Kirby, my sister Lorie and their families, Susan’s mother and father and my uncle. And there in the back, sitting quietly in a chair, her face and eyes covered with those huge oversized “granny” sunglasses that made her look like she was playing some sort of virtual reality game, sat my mom…Alice. The smile on her face stretched across the room and I am certain was matched only by the identical one on my face. My heart swelled with a pride and love that only a son could muster. I had dreamed of this moment since before I launched and had prayed that she would be strong enough to be there when I returned to Earth. You see, my Mom had been bravely battling lung cancer since just before I was announced to fly to the International Space Station last April. We held each other tightly, and she said that she was better now. She told me that what she really wanted was to touch me and hold my hand, and that in doing so, she would know that I was real to her again and back safely upon the Earth.

Mom lost her fight on December 13, 2007…just a little more than a month after we saw each other for what turned out to be the last time. Now, I listen often to a phone message she left me a few days after our meeting in Florida. She had just called to tell me “…welcome back.” Thanks Mom…for everything…I miss you.

Clayton Anderson's ISS Expedition Journal:
Post Flight Chapter Clayton Anderson's ISS Expedition Journal:
Clay's Prologue: “It’s All Relative . . .”

I have now been back on terra firma, our home planet Earth, for about 3 months. In NASA terms we would call that “return plus 3 months” or “R + 90 days.” I have been pronounced by my flight surgeon as “back to normal” physically by virtue of the fact that I successfully completed my physical rehabilitation in the 6th week.
Mentally, well that’s another story!

Clay onboard the International Space Station

Expedition 15/16 Flight Engineer Clayton Anderson returned to Earth from the space station
aboard shuttle mission STS-120. That flight carried his replacement, Daniel Tani, to the station.
Clay Anderson returned, home aboard Discovery on mission STS-120, Nov 07 2007.
The image below (courtesy NASA), is of the touch-down of shuttle Discovery, bringing Clay home

The time after landing is just as busy, maybe more so, than the time I was in space. I have attended numerous debriefing sessions with management, operators, flight directors, engineers, payload designers, educators…just about everybody you can think of. In these sessions we discussed what went right on the mission, what went wrong and how we might all improve for the future, including more Space Station increments and the efforts to take humans back to the moon and on to Mars. In addition, I have continued to exercise faithfully for about 2.5 hours every day even though the official time period of rehabilitation has expired. I have reunited with my family and many of our friends, and yes, I have had that medium rare, T-bone steak (corn fed Nebraska beef!) and baked potato…a couple of times over!

I even had the opportunity to travel with my wife and family. First, we all attended the Fiesta Bowl festivities in Phoenix, Arizona, including a ride in the parade with the crew of STS-118 and then, my wife and I enjoyed an international event with the crew of STS-120 as we jetted to Italy for a whirlwind twelve-day trip. Italy was highlighted by visits to the Italian Space Agency and the Ferrari factory, an appearance on an Italian variety TV show, a trip to the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, a stroll through the ruins of the Roman Forum and Coliseum and a meeting with the Italian President and an opportunity to shake hands with the Pope! It was fast and furious, but an awesome adventure nonetheless!

I believe that one of the most important aspects of the post flight period is that I have the opportunity to travel and share my stories and experiences with as many people as possible. This will begin in earnest at the end of February and will continue through most of May. I am especially excited about returning back to Nebraska and the Midwest to convey my excitement over the wonders of space travel to those folks who helped shape my life. I look forward to seeing more of my family members and friends and enlightening them on such topics as “going to the bathroom in space” and “launching candy toward video camera lenses!”
 
CLAY'S PROLOGUE; 'its all relative'  -  “return plus 3 months”  or  “R + 90 days.”
We are grateful to the NASA website for the information contained herein.
Acknowledgements: The NASA web site: www.nasa.gov
The Ashland Gazette and Lorie (Anderson) Hartzell, Clay's Sister
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center
Houston, Texas 77058
RE: Clayton Anderson, Astronaut
 
 
Acknowledgements: The NASA web site: www.NASA.gov
 
 

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