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.

Families from area shelters treated to meal at Old Chicago
Omaha police investigate two Sunday shootings
Sole big donor to Beau McCoy says he expects nothing in return
Firefighters battle brush fire near Fontenelle Forest
Sioux City riverboat casino prepares to close, still hoping to be saved
Omaha high schoolers to help canvass for Heartland 2050
Mizzou alumni aim to attract veterinary students to Henry Doorly Zoo
Grant ensures that Sioux City can start building children's museum
Party looks to 'nudge' women into public office in Iowa
For birthday, Brownell-Talbot student opts to give, not get
Two taken to hospital after fire at Benson home
Grace: Pipe organ concert a tribute to couple's enduring love
Omaha-area jails and ERs new front line in battling mental illness
Convicted killer Nikko Jenkins might await his sentence in prison
Kelly: 70 years after a deadly D-Day rehearsal, Omahan, WWII vet will return to Europe
Civil rights hearing to consider voting policies in Midwest
17 senators in Nebraska Legislature hit their (term) limits
It's a pursuit of pastel at Spring Lake Park's Easter egg hunt
Financial picture improving for city-owned Mid-America Center
No injuries after fire at midtown's old Mercer Mansion
29-year-old Omahan arrested for 22nd time in Lincoln
Police: Slaying of woman in Ralston apartment likely over drugs
Explosion near 29th, Woolworth damages vehicles
Omaha police arrest man, 19, accused in March shooting
Earth gets its day in the sun at Elmwood Park
< >
Kelly: 70 years after a deadly D-Day rehearsal, Omahan, WWII vet will return to Europe
A World War II veteran from Omaha will return this week to Europe to commemorate a tragedy in the run-up to D-Day.
Dickson’s Week in Review, April 13-19
On Twitter some guy tweeted that the spring game isn’t taken as seriously as a regular-season contest. What was your first clue? When the head coach entered waving a cat aloft?
Kelly: A California university president returns to her Nebraska roots on Ivy Day
The main speaker at today's Ivy Day celebration at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is a college president who grew up roping calves and earned her Ph.D. at the prestigious Oxford University in England.
Breaking Brad: Stuck in a claw machine? You get no Easter candy
I know of one kid in Lincoln who will be receiving a lump of coal from the Easter Bunny, just as soon as he's extricated from that bowling alley claw machine.
Breaking Brad: Mountain lion season's over, but the bunny's fair game!
Thursday was the last day of a Nebraska Legislature session. Before leaving town, legislators passed a bill to hold a lottery to hunt the Easter Bunny.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
The Jaipur in Rockbrook Village
Half Off Fine Indian Cuisine & Drinks! $15 for Dinner, or $7 for Lunch
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 »