There’s never before been an Iowa State University graduate in space — but there will be soon. Astronaut Clayton Anderson, who got his master’s at ISU in the 1980s, is scheduled to blast off aboard the shuttle Atlantis with six crewmates on Friday. The shuttle will rendezvous with the International Space Station where Anderson will be staying for about four months.
In an interview with Radio Iowa in November, the 48-year-old Nebraska native says he’s "beyond excited" as this is something he’s worked for his entire life. Anderson says ,"Going up on the shuttle, it’ll be pretty busy and pretty tight but then once the shuttle crew leaves and I close that hatch behind me, hopefully I’ll have a chance to take a big sigh and relax a little bit although the pace on-station is somewhat more relaxed but it’s still decent. They want to keep you fully occupied."
Anderson will have two Russian crewmates aboard the orbiting space station and he’ll be designated as the science officer. That means he’ll spend a lot of time performing all sorts of experiments, including his first spacewalk. Anderson says the current plan has him joining one of the Russians in doing a joint space walk to do work on the outside of the station.
The four-month mission aboard the space station calls for Anderson to do at least three spacewalks. He says life in orbit promises to be a busy, productive, wonderful experience.
"A standard day on-station starts with a wake-up call around six in the morning and then we work a 12 to 14-hour day," Anderson says, "there will be a considerable amount of science activity, three or four hours per day. The rest will be set up with maintenance and of course two hours of exercise every day."
Anderson got his master of science degree in aerospace engineering at ISU in 1983. Anderson now lives in Houston, Texas, is married and has two kids. Atlantis’ liftoff is slated for 6:38 central time on Friday evening.