News & Events
Astronaut Donald Alan Thomas Shares Space Stories at Beihang University
Release time:April 25, 2023 / Zhang Anqi

On the afternoon of April 21, Dr. Donald Alan Thomas, a former NASA astronaut who completed four space shuttle missions in the 1990s, and his wife were invited to Beihang University on the occasion of the 8th Space Day of China. As one of the important activities of the 8th Beihang Space Culture Festival, Dr. Thomas delivered a special lecture titled "Living and Working in Space", attracting over 100 teachers and students to participate.

During the lecture, Dr. Thomas shared his story of becoming an astronaut after multiple failures and encouraged students to bravely pursue their dreams. He also displayed dozens of rare photos taken in space, introduced details of work and life in space as an astronaut, and shared his experience on work and scientific research. Dr. Thomas said that it is his first visit to a Chinese university, and he chose Beihang University as his first stop because he believes that in the space industry, he and the university share the same mission and belief in exploring space.

After the speech, Dr. Thomas had warm exchanges with teachers and students, answering their questions about career choice, space technology and the future development direction of space exploration. His wise and witty speech as well as sincere and patient answers won hearty rounds of applause from the audience.

Following the lecture, Dr. Thomas took photos with the faculty and students of the School of Astronautics.

Before the lecture, Weng Jingnong, Dean of the International Division, met with Dr. Thomas and his wife and presented them with gifts featuring traditional Chinese culture. Dr. Thomas also visited the engineering training center of the Shahe Campus and the teaching laboratory of the School of Astronautics accompanied by Liu Rui, Party Secretary of the School of Astronautics.

Donald Alan Thomas received a bachelor of science degree in Physics from Case Western Reserve University in 1977, and a master of science degree and a doctorate in Materials Science from Cornell University in 1980 and 1982, respectively. In 1990, he was selected into NASA's 13th batch of astronauts and participated in four space shuttle missions in July 1994, July 1995, April 1997 and July 1997. During these four missions, he spent a total of 44 days in space, accomplished in 692 orbits of the Earth, conducted hundreds of microgravity science experiments, and helped deploy a large communications satellite. After that, he became the Mission Director of NASA's Gagarin Space Training Center in Russia. Since retiring from NASA in 2007, Dr. Thomas has devoted himself to the education of space science for youngsters, and has given lectures in countries such as the United Kingdom, India and South Africa.

Reported by Zhou Mi

Photographed by Song Chao and Du Jingjing

Reviewed by Weng Jingnong

Edited by Jia Aiping

Translated by Zhang Anqi

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