Selected by NASA in January 1990, Dr. Thomas became an astronaut in July 1991. 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, Moscow, Russia. A veteran of four space flights, he logged over 1,040 hours in space. He was a mission specialist on STS-65 (July 8, 1994 – July 23, 1994), STS-70 (July 13, 1995 – July 22, 1995), STS-83 (April 4, 1997 – April 8, 1997) and STS-94 (July 1, 1997 – July 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. Thomas retired from NASA in July 2007 in order to pursue private interests.
Space flight experience STS-65 Columbia (July 8, 1994 – July 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, 1995 – July 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, 1997 – April 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, 1997 – July 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.