Nebraska astronaut Clayton Anderson confirms retirement -
Published Saturday, January 26, 2013 at 12:00 am / Updated at 1:01 am
Nebraska astronaut Clayton Anderson confirms retirement

Clayton Anderson

Nebraska astronaut Clayton Anderson is jettisoning NASA and taking off to new frontiers.

The six-time spacewalker’s next Earthbound missions will include teaching gigs in the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s education college and Iowa State University’s aerospace engineering program.

“All doors are open,” Anderson said Friday during an interview from the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

During Anderson’s 30-year NASA career, he spent 167 days in space, including more than 38 hours in spacewalks. Anderson said retirement from the national space agency wasn’t on his horizon until October, when NASA received authority to seek voluntary early retirements in response to federal budget constraints.

He turns 54 next month.

Anderson said he asked astronaut corps administrators if he would ever fly in space again.

Photo blog: 'It's been an awesome ride'

“Those results were negative,” he said. “So when early retirement presented itself, my wife and I talked and prayed and decided it was a great time to move into my next adventure.”

Anderson and his family — wife Susan, high school junior Cole and sixth-grader Sutton — will remain in Houston for now. He plans to finish a book he’s been writing for several years and to do more public speaking.

Anderson was born in Omaha, graduated from high school in Ashland, Neb. — which he considers his hometown — and earned a bachelor’s degree at Hastings College in Hastings, Neb. He earned a master’s in aerospace engineering from Iowa State in 1983 and started his career with NASA at the Johnson Space Center.

His three decades at NASA were roughly split into segments as an engineer and as an astronaut.

He spent five months aboard the International Space Station in 2007, flying there on the shuttle Atlantis and returning on Discovery. In 2010, he was part of a 15-day resupply mission to the station, helping the Discovery crew deliver 27,000 pounds of supplies and equipment.

In recent years, Anderson has worked as a capsule communicator, helping the space station crew solve problems. He also taught and mentored newer astronauts on how to maneuver outside of their vehicles in space.

Anderson said the narrative of his unfinished book begins when he applied to be an astronaut and includes behind-the-scenes information about his selection, training and flights.

“My goal is to give people an inside look into the life of an astronaut, the ups and downs, highs and lows, and what happens in a person’s life when you agree to fly and live in space for five months,” he said.

The book is about half-written.

Anderson said his UNO plans are fluid but probably will include lectures about his NASA experiences and how educators can better prepare young people for careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

Earlier this week Anderson was in Hastings to receive the Tom Osborne Leadership Award from Leadership Hastings. Osborne, the former Nebraska athletic director and football coach, is a Hastings College graduate.

“Any time someone says you’re worthy of an award that includes ‘Tom Osborne’ and ‘leadership,’ I’m pretty flattered,” he said.

Word of Anderson’s decision to retire leaked after he tweeted nostalgic farewells to colleagues that coincided with his last shift as a capsule communicator and his final “spacewalk” in the space center’s training pool.

“It steamrolled, and I thought I better come clean,’’ he said.

Anderson said his final spacewalk in the 6.2-million-gallon training pool was more than a selfish splash.

“I wanted to do one final run to say ‘thank you’ the right way to all those who helped me reach the pinnacle and be a space walker,” he said. “It was important to me.”

Anderson said he is sad to see his career at the space agency end.

“It’s been an awesome ride,” he said, “but I truly believe I have more to accomplish in my life.”

Contact the writer: 402-444-1127,

Contact the writer: David Hendee    |   402-444-1127

David covers a variety of news across Nebraska, particularly natural resources and rural issues and the State Game and Parks Commission.

Kelly: New $24M UNO center embodies spirit of newlywed crash victim
Gov. Heineman calls 2014 a 'very good year for Nebraska taxpayers'
Ex-Iowan behind landmark free speech case recounts story in Bellevue
Arrest made in teen's shooting death at Benson's Gallagher Park
Section of 50th Street to close for bridge demolition
Nikko Jenkins found guilty of 4 murders
Rather than doing $250K in repairs, owner who lives in lot behind 94-year-old house in Dundee razes it
Plans for new $16M YMCA in Council Bluffs at 'critical juncture'
Woodmen request would take nearly $40M in valuation from tax rolls
With fixed AC, Fort Calhoun's nuclear station ends brief shutdown
Windy day could make driving difficult on east-west roads
Richard Brown steps down as Charles Drew Health Center CEO
High school slam poets don't just recite verses, 'they leave their hearts beating on the stage'
OPD safety expo set for April 26
Database: How much did Medicare pay your doctor?
Crew working to disassemble International Nutrition plant
New public employee pay data: Douglas, Lancaster, Sarpy Counties, plus utilities
18-year-old arrested in stolen-car case
U.S. Senate candidate Bart McLeay trails his 3 GOP rivals in fundraising
86-year-old Holdrege man killed in weekend collision
New police gang intervention specialist knows firsthand about getting involved with wrong crowd
Finally. Spring expected to return. No, really: Warmer-than-average weather in forecast
Four, including Omahan, vie for police chief position in Council Bluffs
In TV ad, Shane Osborn says Ben Sasse 'beholden to Washington'
City Council OKs redevelopment plan for north downtown project
< >
Kelly: New $24M UNO center embodies spirit of newlywed crash victim
Jessica Lutton Bedient was killed by a drunken driver at age 26 in 2010. Thursday, the widowed husband and other family members will gather with others at the University of Nebraska at Omaha to dedicate a permanent memorial to Jessica.
Breaking Brad: How much would you pay for a corn dog?
The Arizona Diamondbacks have a new concession item: a $25 corn dog. For that kind of money, it should be stuffed with Bitcoin.
Breaking Brad: Pothole repair crew gets stuck in a pothole
In East Lansing, Mich., a pothole repair crew got stuck inside a pothole. How did this not happen in Omaha?
Breaking Brad: What do the moon, Colorado senators have in common?
How about that "blood red" moon Monday? It was as red as the eyes of a Colorado legislator.
Breaking Brad: Hey, Republicans, are you ready to be audited?
A quick list of audit red flags: 3) You fail to sign your return. 2) You fail to report income. 1) You are a registered Republican.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
Shoreline Golf Club
$40 for 2 Players, 18 Holes of Golf with Cart ($85 Value)
Buy Now
< >
Omaha World-Herald Contests
Enter for a chance to win great prizes.
OWH Store: Buy photos, books and articles
Buy photos, books and articles
Travel Snaps Photo
Going on Vacation? Take the Omaha World-Herald with you and you could the next Travel Snaps winner.
Click here to donate to Goodfellows
The 2011 Goodfellows fund drive provided holiday meals to nearly 5,000 families and their children, and raised more than $500,000 to help families in crisis year round.
Want to get World-Herald stories sent directly to your home or work computer? Sign up for's News Alerts and you will receive e-mails with the day's top stories.
Can't find what you need? Click here for site map »