About Andy Thomas

The Centre is named after Dr Andy Thomas AO—Australia's first astronaut, aerospace engineer and University of Adelaide alumni.

About Dr Andy Thomas

Dr Thomas was born in Adelaide, South Australia in 1951. In 1973, Dr Thomas graduated with First Class Honours in Mechanical Engineering and received a PhD in Mechanical Engineering in 1978.

Andy Thomas in space with the Australian flag

In 1977 he joined Lockheed Aeronautical Systems Company in Georgia, US, as a research scientist. In 1987 he became manager of Lockheed's Flight Sciences Division and directed the technical efforts in vehicle aerodynamics, flight controls and propulsion systems that supported the company's fleet of production aircraft.

In 1989, Dr Thomas moved to Pasadena, California, to join the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and shortly afterwards was appointed leader of their NASA-sponsored program which conducted research to support the development of the space flight hardware for future Space Shuttle missions.

In 1992, Dr Thomas was selected for astronaut training by NASA, and a year later was appointed a member of the astronaut corps.

In May 1996 he took his first flight into space as the payload commander and mission specialist aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour. Dr Thomas made three subsequent trips into space, including a space walk and an extended stay on the Russian MIR Space Station.

Dr Thomas has received numerous awards for his contribution to the exploration of space, including South Australian of the Year and a Centenary of Federation Medal. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Institution of Engineers Australia.