Dream of becoming an astronaut took 15 attempts


Astronaut and Ashland, a Nebraska native, Clayton Anderson, knows how to react. He faced over and over again in his quest to become a US astronaut.

He first learned he wanted to become a 9-year-old astronaut. That's when, on Christmas Eve 1968, he and his family watched the Apollo astronauts go after the moon for the first time.

It took perseverance and determination to see his dream finally become a reality. After 14 rejection letters, he was finally selected for the astronaut training program.

Speaking to an audience composed of S.C.O.R.E. students of the camp, their parents and local residents, Anderson stressed that everyone needs to have a dream.

Realizing these dreams requires perseverance, just as he demonstrated in his relentless attempts to be accepted into the astronaut training program.

You do not have to be a genius, like Albert Einstein, to achieve your dreams, he remarked.

Anderson said he was a good student, but by no means a "genius."

He remembered to begin his pursuit of a master's degree in aerospace engineering in the state of Iowa.

One of his first classes was advanced calculus with a young teacher. Despite all his hard work, he got a D in the class.

He picked it up again, putting in the hard work he had before. This time he got an A.

"So, have a dream, persevere. You do not have to be a genius. And number four, be proud of who you are, "he said.

"There's no one in the state of Nebraska any more proud than I am of the state of Nebraska," he added.

With every chance he got, it showed Husker's spirit, displaying his red N that coach Tom Osborne had given him to fly in space.

Anderson went to space for the International Space Station twice. The first time in 2007, he spent 152 days at the station.

In 2010, he returned to ISS on the space shuttle, spending another 15 days in space.

People often ask him what it's like to live and work in space.

He said it's like being Superman every day. "I woke up and flew for breakfast. After breakfast, I flew to work.

"I was faster than a bullet at 17,500 miles per hour, five miles every second. I was more powerful than a locomotive – I can lift anything above my head with one hand. And I could jump tall buildings in a single figure because there were no buildings that were 250 miles above the earth.

"And I defended the truth and justice and the American way."

To conclude, he reminded his parents: "We have the power to change lives."

What's next for Anderson

Having spent 30 years at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, he said he would like to stay and share this experience.

He admitted that he was probably too honest about the program and ways to make it better. As a result, he retired from the space center.

His wife, Sue, is also a career employee at the space center, which is where they met. They continue to live in the Houston area.

His eldest son, Cole, will do his masters at Iowa State after completing his football career last season.

Her daughter, Sutton, has just graduated from high school and will be attending the University of Texas-Arlington next fall.

Anderson does some teaching in the state of Iowa and travels around the country and the world talking about his experiences as an astronaut.

Moon and Mars

Anderson said he hopes to see the US land on Mars during his lifetime.

He said preparations to return to the moon will help develop and prepare the space program for the infrastructure needed for six to nine months to Mars.

Many things still need to be discovered, he noted, to keep things from going wrong.

In addition, the communication delay between Mars and Earth is 20 minutes in each direction.

So planning for Mars needs to be much different than going to the moon, he added.

He said the privatization and commercialization of space flights will also be interesting in the coming years.

When asked about what stands out during his career as an astronaut, he said that seeing ISS Earth is one of the most spectacular sights that anyone can experience.

And there's only one way to do that: to be an astronaut.


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