The first Iowa State University graduate in space is returning to his hometown in the Omaha-Council Bluffs area this week for the first time since completing his five-month mission in orbit. A welcome home celebration is planned in Ashland, Nebraska, on Friday night for astronaut Clayton Anderson at the Strategic Air and Space Museum, where Mac McLean is spokesman.

McLean says the 6 P.M. event is being held by the city of Ashland to celebrate Anderson’s official homecoming after returning from the International Space Station. Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman is expected to be among the dignitaries at the dinner. McLean says Heineman is expected to present Anderson with the honor of being an admiral in the fictional Nebraska Navy.

He says the event will be held in one of the museum’s large hangars and they’re expecting a large turnout. While he’s a Nebraska native, Anderson got his master’s degree in aerospace engineering from Iowa State University in 1983. If you can’t make the dinner, McLean says Anderson will also be in town this weekend.

McLean says Anderson, who lives in Texas now, will be back at the museum on Saturday morning at 11 to deliver a presentation about his career as an astronaut and the time he spent on the space station last year. He was in orbit from June to November, performing a host of duties on the station, ranging from growing basil and lettuce as part of a battery of science experiments to doing spacewalks.

For information on the Friday dinner, contact the Ashland City Hall at 402- 944-3387. For details on Saturday’s events, call the museum at 4020-827-3100.