Nebraska astronaut shares his inspiration behind pursuing a career in space

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KEARNEY, Neb. (KSNB) - Nebraska's very own Clayton Anderson is a retired NASA astronaut, and visited the Kearney Public Library Wednesday evening, during this week 50 years after the Apollo11 mission. Anderson was a part of the shuttle program, and flew on both Atlantis and Discovery.

Astronaut Clayton Anderson, the first Nebraskan astronaut, spoke in Kearney and signed books on Wednesday.

When asked, Anderson said his inspiration actually didn't come from the Apollo 11 mission, but the year before in 1968, when Apollo 8 flew behind the Moon for the first time.

"My parents awakened my brother, my sister, and I Christmas Eve, plopped us down on the floor in front of a black and white TV near midnight. We watched the Apollo 8 guys go behind the moon for the first time. So, that was my memory moment."

He followed that up saying "my mother said that when I was six, three years earlier, that I would discuss becoming an astronaut with her."

During his presentation, he called out some of the kids and told them he was just like them. Growing up in a small town, going to a small school, and having an interest in space, he encouraged them to pursue becoming an astronaut if that's what they wanted. He said it took more than a dozen applications before he was called for an interview with NASA, and emphasized perseverance.

Since retirement, Anderson has become a writer.

His first book, "The Ordinary Spaceman, from Boyhood Dreams to Astronaut," recounts many of his tales as an astronaut. He goes into everything from achieving his dream, to the struggles that come with it, to how certain... human needs... are accommodated in space. He followed his first book with two others geared for a younger audience, "A is for Astronaut," and "It's a Question of Space."

Anderson is very proud to be Nebraska's first astronaut, but he hopes he doesn't hold the mantle forever as the only one from our state.

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