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Audio Andy Thomas describes his first flight into space, 2008

TLF ID R9901

This is an edited sound recording of Australian astronaut Andy Thomas talking about his first flight into space in May 1996. Thomas describes the experience of taking off aboard the US space shuttle Endeavour, and how he was able to look down from space on the city of his birth, Adelaide, at night. He also describes how the Australian continent looked from space. The recording was made in August 2008.

Educational details

Educational value
  • This recording provides a graphic firsthand account of being aboard a spacecraft at take-off. Thomas (1951-) is describing the launch from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida on 19 May 1996 of the Endeavour space shuttle. He explains what he could see and feel as the main engines and the solid rocket boosters of the shuttle ignited, and then as the shuttle soared into space after it left the launch pad.
  • Thomas is describing the start of the STS-77 mission by the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). This ten-day mission involved deploying two satellites, testing a large inflatable space structure in orbit, and conducting a range of scientific experiments in a 'Spacelab' laboratory module in the Endeavour's payload bay. The shuttle travelled a total of 6.6 million km as it completed 160 orbits of the Earth at a height of 153 nautical miles.
  • The STS-77 mission was the first of four space flights for Thomas. In 1998 he travelled aboard Endeavour to the Russian space station, Mir, where he spent 141 days before being brought back to Earth on the shuttle Discovery. His third and fourth missions were on board Discovery in 2001 and 2005, both to the International Space Station (ISS). On the 2001 mission, Thomas spent 6.5 hours on a 'space walk' installing components on the exterior of the ISS.
  • In this recording Thomas gives a description of Adelaide by night and the Australian continent by day as he looked down from space. He tells how, coincidentally, his first orbit of the Earth aboard Endeavour took him over Adelaide, which he could make out below as a 'cluster of lights'. He recalls being struck by how red the Australian continent appeared in relation to the surrounding blue ocean.
  • Before joining the staff of NASA in 1992, Thomas worked as a research scientist in fields such as aerodynamics, aeroacoustics, jet propulsion and microgravity. He qualified as a NASA astronaut after one year of training. To be able to participate in the long-duration mission aboard the Russian space station, he undertook one year of training at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre in Star City, near Moscow.

Other details

  • Contributor
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organization: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Description: Content provider
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
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  • Name: Education Services Australia
  • Organization: Education Services Australia
  • Description: Data manager
  • Person: Andy Thomas
  • Description: Author
  • Copyright Holder
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organization: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
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  • Publisher
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organization: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Description: Publisher
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
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  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: AUSTRALIA
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Learning Resource Type
  • Audio
  • © Education Services Australia Ltd, 2013, except where indicated under Acknowledgements.