An astronaut who graduated from Iowa State University is scheduled to ride the shuttle Endeavour into orbit next year, the first-ever ISU grad to go into space.

Clayton Anderson is assigned to spend between two and four months on the International Space Station. Anderson, a 47-year-old Nebraska native, says he’s beyond excited as this is something he’s worked for his entire life. “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,” Anderson says. “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. “I also hope to do a couple of space walks as part of the shuttle STS 118 crew,” he says.

The current plan also has Anderson and one of the Russians doing a joint space walk, or “EVA” which stands for “extra vehicular activity,” to do work on the outside of the station.

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’s mission is tentatively scheduled to start in June of 2007. He 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.