Astronaut highlights importance of space program


June 21st, 2013


Former astronaut Clayton Anderson called his time with NASA a magnificent adventure. (Photo courtesy KVNO News)

Omaha, NE — Former astronaut and Nebraska native Clayton Anderson talked about the importance of NASA’s space program June 21 at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.


Anderson gave the Harold Andersen lecture at the UNMC orthopedic surgery residency graduation. During his remarks he outlined his path from growing up in Ashland, Neb., to joining the Johnson Space Center and eventually becoming an astronaut.

“I would never have become an astronaut; I would never have been successful if it weren’t for all the people of Nebraska,” Anderson said.  “The whole town of Ashland contributed to my makeup, my morality, my stick-to-it-iveness, everything comes from the people who raised me.”

Anderson said the space program is more than just flying to the moon; it’s about what is learned after the trip is over. Cell phones, portable tools and even Interstate 80 are the result of research from NASA, according to Anderson.

“All of those are benefits from NASA technology,” he said. “We discover so many new technologies that people can use.”

Anderson said less than half of a penny of every tax dollar goes to the space program, which is a sharp decline from when he began at NASA in 1983.

“When I started at NASA, about 75 percent of every penny of every tax dollar went to the space program and it was higher than that in the Apollo days,” he said.

Anderson said investing in NASA has benefits and paybacks for everyone on the planet and people shouldn’t see it as a waste.

“That’s why we do it and that’s why it’s OK in my opinion to pay tax dollars toward something like NASA,” he said.  “It is not a waste of government money. It is not a waste of your tax dollars.”

Although Anderson no longer works for NASA, he remains an advocate for the program and education geared toward science, technology, engineering and math. He said his time as an astronaut was a magnificent adventure.

“Flying in space was the ultimate,” Anderson said.  “I would go back in a heartbeat right now.”

The retired astronaut is currently writing a memoir entitled, “Taking Up Space” about his time as an astronaut. It is expected to hit shelves later this year.


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