Status: Inactive; Active 1990-2007. Born: 1955-05-06. Spaceflights: 4 . Total time in space: 43.34 days. Birth Place: Cleveland, Ohio.
Educated Case Western; Cornell.
Official NASA Biography as of June 2016:Donald A. Thomas (Ph.D.)
NASA ASTRONAUT (FORMER)
PERSONAL DATA: Born May 6, 1955, in Cleveland, Ohio. Married to the former Simone Lehmann of Göppingen, Germany. They have one son. He enjoys swimming, biking, camping, flying. His mother, Mrs. Irene M. Thomas, resides in Bloomington, Indiana. Her parents, Margrit and Gerhard Lehmann, reside in Göppingen, Germany.
EDUCATION: Graduated from Cleveland Heights High School, Cleveland Heights, Ohio, in 1973; received a bachelor of science degree in Physics from Case Western Reserve University in 1977, and a master of science degree and a doctorate in Materials Science from Cornell University in 1980 and 1982, respectively. His dissertation involved evaluating the effect of crystalline defects and sample purity on the superconducting properties of niobium.
ORGANIZATIONS: Tau Beta Pi; Association of Space Explorers (ASE).
SPECIAL HONORS: Graduated with Honors from Case Western Reserve University in 1977. Recipient of NASA Sustained Superior Performance Award, 1989. Recipient of 4 NASA Group Achievement Awards, 4 NASA Space Flight Medals, 2 NASA Exceptional Service Medals, and the NASA Distinguished Service Medal.
EXPERIENCE: Following graduation from Cornell University in 1982, Dr. Thomas joined AT&T Bell Laboratories in Princeton, New Jersey, working as a Senior Member of the Technical Staff. His responsibilities there included the development of advanced materials and processes for high density interconnections of semiconductor devices. He was also an adjunct professor in the Physics Department at Trenton State College in New Jersey. He holds two patents and has authored several technical papers. He left AT&T in 1987 to work for Lockheed Engineering and Sciences Company in Houston, Texas, where his responsibilities involved reviewing materials used in Space Shuttle payloads. In 1988 he joined NASA’s Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center as a Materials Engineer. His work involved lifetime projections of advanced composite materials for use on Space Station Freedom. He was also a Principal Investigator for the Microgravity Disturbances Experiment, a middeck crystal growth experiment which flew on STS-32 in January 1990. This experiment investigated the effects of Orbiter and crew-induced disturbances on the growth of crystals in space.
He is a private pilot with over 250 hours in single engine land aircraft and gliders, and over 800 hours flying as mission specialist in NASA T-38 jet aircraft.
NASA EXPERIENCE: Selected by NASA in January 1990, Dr. Thomas became an astronaut in July 1991. Dr. Thomas has served in the Safety, Operations Development, and Payloads Branches of the Astronaut Office. He was CAPCOM (spacecraft communicator) for Shuttle missions STS-47, 52 and 53. From July 1999 to June 2000 he was Director of Operations for NASA at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia. A veteran of four space flights, he has logged over 1,040 hours in space. He was a mission specialist on STS-65 (July 8-23, 1994), STS-70 (July 13-22, 1995), STS-83 (April 4-8, 1997) and STS-94 (July 1-17, 1997). Initially assigned to the ISS Expedition-6 crew, his flight assignment withdrawal resulted from a medical issue affecting long duration space flight qualifications. In his last assignment he served as the International Space Station Program Scientist overseeing NASA experiments performed on the ISS. Dr. Thomas retired from NASA in July 2007 in order to pursue private interests.
SPACE FLIGHT EXPERIENCE: STS-65 Columbia (July 8-23, 1994) set a new flight duration record for the Space Shuttle program. The mission flew the second International Microgravity Laboratory (IML-2). During the 15-day flight the crew conducted more than 80 experiments focusing on materials and life sciences research in microgravity. The mission was accomplished in 236 orbits of the Earth, traveling 6.1 million miles in 353 hours and 55 minutes.
STS-70 Discovery (July 13-22, 1995). During the STS-70 mission, Dr. Thomas was responsible for the deployment of the sixth and final Tracking and Data Relay Satellite from the Space Shuttle. Mission duration was 214 hours and 20 minutes, traveling 3.7 million miles in 142 orbits of the Earth.
STS-83 Columbia (April 4-8, 1997). The STS-83 Microgravity Science Laboratory ( MSL-1) Spacelab mission, was cut short because of problems with one of the Shuttle’s three fuel cell power generation units. Mission duration was 95 hours and 12 minutes, traveling 1.5 million miles in 63 orbits of the Earth.
STS-94 Columbia (July 1-17, 1997), was a re-flight of the Microgravity Science Laboratory ( MSL-1) Spacelab mission, and focused on materials and combustion science research in microgravity. Mission duration was 376 hours and 45 minutes, traveling 6.3 million miles in 251 orbits of the Earth.
He is a private pilot with over 250 hours in single engine land aircraft and gliders, and over 600 hours flying as mission specialist in NASA T-38 jet aircraft.
Selected by NASA in January 1990, Dr. Thomas became an astronaut in July 1991. He has worked in the Safety and Operations Development Branches of the Astronaut Office working on issues relating to Shuttle Orbiter systems, and was also a spacecraft communicator (CAPCOM) for Shuttle missions STS-47, 52 and 53. A veteran of three space flights, he has logged 663 hours and 27 minutes in space. He was a mission specialist on STS-65 (July 8-23, 1994), STS-70 (July 13-22, 1995) and STS-83 (April 4-8, 1997). He is scheduled to fly aboard Columbia on STS-94 in the Summer of 1997.
STS-65 flew the second International Microgravity Laboratory (IML-2) Spacelab module. The seven-member crew aboard Space Shuttle Columbia launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on July 8, 1994, and returned there on July 23, 1994 setting a new flight duration record for the Space Shuttle program. During the 15-day flight the crew conducted more than 80 experiments focusing on materials and life sciences research in microgravity. The mission was accomplished in 236 orbits of the Earth, traveling 6.1 million miles.
On STS-70, Dr. Thomas was responsible for the deployment of the sixth and final Tracking and Data Relay Satellite from the Space Shuttle. The five-member crew aboard Space Shuttle Discovery launched from the Kennedy Space Center July 13, 1995, and returned there July 22, 1995. During the 8 day 22 hour mission, the crew completed 142 orbits of the Earth, traveling 3.7 million miles.
STS-83, the Microgravity Science Laboratory (MSL-1) Spacelab mission, was cut short because of problems with one of the Shuttle's three fuel cell power generation units. Mission duration was 95 hours and 12 minutes, traveling 1.5 million miles in 63 orbits of the Earth.
The group was selected to provide pilot, engineer, and scientist astronauts for space shuttle flights.. Qualifications: Pilots: Bachelor's degree in engineering, biological science, physical science or mathematics. Advanced degree desirable. At least 1,000 flight-hours of pilot-in-command time. Flight test experience desirable. Excellent health. Vision minimum 20/50 uncorrected, correctable to 20/20 vision; maximum sitting blood pressure 140/90. Height between 163 and 193 cm.
Mission Specialists: Bachelor's degree in engineering, biological science, physical science or mathematics and minimum three years of related experience or an advanced degree. Vision minimum 20/150 uncorrected, correctable to 20/20. Maximum sitting blood pressure of 140/90. Height between 150 and 193 cm.. Reported to the Johnson Space Center in late July 1990 to begin their year long training. Chosen from 1945 qualified applicants, then 106 finalists screened between September and November 1989.
Carried IML-2; microgravity, biology experiments. Payloads: International Microgravity Laboratory (IML) 2, Orbital Acceleration Research Experiment (OARE), Commercial Protein Crystal Growth (CPCG), Air Force Maui Optical Site (AMOS), Military Applications of Ship Tracks (MAST), Shuttle Amateur Radio Experiment (SAREX).
Deployed TDRS 7. Payloads: Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) G/ Inertial Upper Stage (IUS); Bioreactor Demon-stration System (BDS) B; Biological Research in Canisters (BRIC); Commercial Protein Crystal Growth (CPCG); Hand-Held, Earth-Oriented, Real-Time, Cooperative, User-Friendly, Location-Targeting and Environmental System (HER-CULES); Microcapsules in Space (MIS) B; Physiological and Anatomical Rodent Experiment (PARE)/National Institutes of Health (NIH) Rodents (R); Radiation Monitoring Experiment (RME) III; Shuttle Amateur Radio Experiment (SAREX) II; Space Tissue Loss (STL)/National Institutes of Health (NIH) Cells (C); Military Applications of Ship Tracks (MAST); Visual Function Tester (VFT) 4; Window Experiment (WINDEX).
The launch of STS-83, the first Microgravity Science Laboratory (MSL-1) mission, was postponed for a day to replace some insulation around a water coolant line in Columbia's payload bay. Liftoff was further delayed 20 minutes due to anomalous oxygen readings in the orbiter's payload bay. STS-83 was cut short due to a problem with one of the three fuel cells that provide electricity and water to Columbia (flight rules required that all three must be operating). At 14:30 GMT on April 6 the crew were ordered to begin a Minimum Duration Flight (MDF). On April 8 the OMS engines ignited at 17:30 GMT for the deorbit burn, and Columbia landed on Runway 33 at Kennedy Space Center at 18:33 GMT.
With delays in International Space Station construction leaving ample room in the shuttle schedule, NASA made the unique decision to leave the equipment installed in Columbia and refly this mission with the same crew later in 1997 as STS-94.
STS-94 was the reflight, with the same equipment and crew, of the curtailed STS-83 mission. Cargo Bay Payloads:
The mission this time went for its full two week duration and the crew completed the full list of experiments. The deorbit burn was on July 17, 1997 at 09:44 GMT and Columbia landed on KSC's Runway 33 at 10:46:34 GMT.