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Andy Thomas was the seventh and final NASA astronaut to reside on the Russian Space Station Mir. Thomas arrived as part of the STS-89 mission onboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour, which launched on January 22, 1998. After completing 141 days in space, he returned to Earth with the crew of STS-91 on the Space Shuttle Discovery on June 12, 1998. His return ended more than two years of a continuous U.S. presence on the Mir space station.
Thomas became an astronaut in 1993. Prior to his NASA career, Thomas worked for Lockheed Aeronautical Systems Company and for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, investigating such areas as aerodynamics and microgravity materials processing. He earned a Bachelor of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering, with First Class Honors, and a Doctorate in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Adelaide, South Australia.
The days aboard the Mir kept Thomas busy with engineering tasks and scientific experiments. He enjoyed his recreation time by sketching. He said in his Oral History, "I had paper and pencils up there, and I would do sketches of things that I saw out the window or internal views and things like that. Over the 20 weeks I was there, I did a number of these sketches, not many, about 12, because they take a long time to do.
"But I found that a very rewarding activity because you can get so involved in it, it distracts you completely from everything else you've been thinking about, and you're thinking creatively, which I like to do, and that turned out to be an immense pleasure during the flight.
"I would do a sketch on a Saturday, or do some sketching on a Saturday, and I'd find suddenly that hours had passed, and at the end of it I felt just refreshed and ready to go, plus it has given me a personal record of the trip, which is perhaps a little more personal than just a whole series of photographs," he added.
For more information, select Shuttle Flights & Mir Increments, Thomas Increment.
NASA Biography: Andrew Thomas
Andy Thomas Oral History (PDF)
Andrew Thomas Video (15 sec.) MPEG (1.1M) (No Audio)
U.S. Mir Residents | Astronauts | Cosmonauts | Teams | Oral Histories | Shuttle-Mir Stories
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Responsible NASA Official: John Ira Petty