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.

Oil industry ad campaign mocks Nebraska cowboys who protested Keystone XL pipeline
In Omaha, bus tour calls for hourly minimum wage over $10
Fremont police searching for missing 56-year-old man
Prosecutor: Baby might be alive if day care employer had spoken up
NRA seeks universal gun law at national meeting
Beau McCoy calls Pete Ricketts a 'convenient conservative' for immigration stance
Omaha senator seeks minimum wage ballot measure
Agreement reached to end dog racing at Bluffs Run at end of 2015
Police probe bank robbery
Man accused of trying to open flying plane's door pleads not guilty
Ben Sasse shifts tactics, calls ad by Shane Osborn 'hypocritical'
Forecast on the upswing after Thursday's rain
EB Harney Street lane closed
Ex-UNMC student loses appeal; claimed program didn't make accommodations for his depression
Grace: Your older self has a request — use sunscreen
At NU's helm, J.B. Milliken built the university by building relationships with state leaders
City's Personnel Board is behind ‘ban-the-box’ proposal
Kelly: Started at a dining room table, Home Instead thriving at 20 with $1B in annual revenue
Richard Paul Dreier, 90, was wounded in attack during WWII
Police issue arrest warrant in teen's shooting death
Kelly: Huskers' glory days of '80s live on — on the small screen and on stage
New public employee pay data: Douglas, Lancaster, Sarpy Counties, plus utilities
Database: How much did Medicare pay your doctor?
Construction to start in May on West Broadway apartment/retail structure
3 Nebraska Board of Education candidates call for high standards
< >
Breaking Brad: 117-mph riding lawnmowers and 12-scoop banana splits
The Chicago White Sox are selling a 12-scoop banana split inside a full-size batting helmet for $17. You know what you'd call someone in Chicago who'd eat this? "Health nut."
Breaking Brad: Walmart beats Russia, stakes a claim on the moon
Russia is claiming it owns a section of the moon. If you follow the news, you know this probably doesn't end well.
Kelly: Started at a dining room table, Home Instead thriving at 20 with $1B in annual revenue
The idea that Paul Hogan had studied and then hatched at his mother's table was that older people, rather than moving in with relatives or to an assisted-living center, would much prefer to stay home instead.
Kelly: Huskers' glory days of '80s live on — on the small screen and on stage
The 1984 NFL draft was unusual for the Nebraska Cornhuskers, and these days it's remembered in the name of a rock band, the 1984 Draft. Tonight, the band is featured on the NFL Network.
Breaking Brad: Nebraska GOP candidates unified against naked squirrels
Some of these Nebraska campaigns are tilting pretty far right. At a recent forum, there was a consensus that we need to ban public dancing and clothe naked squirrels in public parks.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
7M Grill
Half Off Delicious Comfort Fusion Food & Drinks!
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 »