Andy Thomas

Quick Facts

  • Born: December 18, 1951, Adelaide
  • First Australian citizen in space
  • Flew four space missions
  • Has lived on the MIR Space Station orbiting Earth
  • Likes windsurfing, horse riding, mountain biking, playing classical guitar


Dr Andrew (Andy) Thomas has broken free of the Earth's atmosphere on four occasions, rocketing into space and spending months on the MIR Space Station orbiting our planet. Dr Thomas earnt his doctorate in mechanical engineering before becoming a research scientist with the Lockheed Aeronautical Systems Company in Marietta, Georgia, in 1977. Fifteen years later he was at NASA, in preparation for his first space flight.

Dr Thomas grew up in suburban Adelaide with dreams of reaching the stars. As a teenager, he was glued to the television screen as space flights went deeper into space, finally landing on the moon in 1969. His dream of being propelled through space took shape, despite knowing his 'prospects of becoming an astronaut were remote'. He believed the 'pathway to many interesting experiences can be opened if you have the right kind of education'.

Andy Thomas served as payload commander on his first flight into space on Endeavour in May 1996. On his return he trained at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre in Star City, Russia, in preparation for a long-duration flight. On January 22, 1998, two years after his first space flight, Andy Thomas blasted off with the Endeavour crew to serve as Board Engineer 2 on the Russian Space Station, MIR. He returned to Earth almost five months later aboard Discovery.

Andy Thomas was again aboard Discovery in March 2001 to deliver supplies to the MIR Space Station. The round trip took 13 days and, during his brief stay, he and astronaut Paul Richards walked in space to install a stowage platform and coolant pump to the outside of the Destiny module.

In 2005 Andy Thomas found himself in space again. Following the Columbia disaster in 2003, he was part of a team testing and evaluating new procedures for flight safety and repair techniques on the shuttle’s thermal protection system. This trip covered close to six million miles (10 million kilometres) through space. All up, Dr Thomas logged more than 177 days in space.

Dr Thomas confides that his inspiration for adventure and exploration comes from the explorers in Australian history, those who embarked on 'prodigious treks' into what was for them the unknown. He sees many similarities between what he does and those who have had the courage to push back the boundaries of the unknown.



  • Karen McGhee, 'Rocket Man', Cosmos, Issue 10, August/September 2006