This month I was honored to be featured in Phi Beta Kappa’s “Key Reporter.” The text of my comments about the honor society is below:
“I became an astronaut because America in the 1960s encouraged the dreams of its young people to reach for the stars. I work now to ensure that our children have that same opportunity to learn, excel and explore. The harsh environment and complex scientific problems confronting us in space will demand the best from our leaders, managers, scientists and engineers.
“Since Apollo 11 first touched down on the Moon 40 years ago, America has led the way in space exploration, a recognition that our nation cannot thrive without competing on the frontiers of science and technology. Maintaining that leadership is a fundamental and necessary investment in our future, rewarding us with new scientific discoveries, sources of energy and raw materials, and a competitive economic edge. Phi Beta Kappa recognizes the value of motivating our next generation of explorers, a skilled ‘corps of discovery’ trained to tackle our toughest 21st-century challenges.”
— Tom Jones
Thomas D. Jones is a veteran NASA astronaut, scientist, speaker, author and consultant. He holds a doctorate in planetary sciences, and in more than 11 years with NASA, flew on four space shuttle missions to Earth’s orbit. On his last flight, Jones led three spacewalks to help install the centerpiece of the International Space Station, the American Destiny laboratory. He has spent 53 days working and living in space.
Jones was a Distinguished Graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy before graduating Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Arizona in 1988. He piloted B-52D strategic bombers, studied asteroids for NASA, engineered intelligence-gathering systems for the CIA and helped develop advanced mission concepts to explore the solar system prior to joining NASA’s astronaut corps.
His latest book is Planetology: Unlocking the Secrets of the Solar System (written with Ellen Stofan, Ph.D.; National Geographic, 2008). His other 2008 book is Hell Hawks! (with Robert F. Dorr; Zenith Press, 2008), a true story of an aerial band of brothers in WWII. The Wall Street Journal named his earlier book Sky Walking: An Astronaut’s Memoir (Smithsonian-Collins, 2006) as one of its “Five Best” books about space. Jones writes frequently for the Smithsonian’s Air & Space, Aerospace America, Popular Mechanics and American Heritage magazines.
His awards include the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, four NASA Space Flight Medals, NASA Exceptional Service Award, NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal and the Air Force Commendation Medal.
Jones is a member of the NASA Advisory Council, serves on the board of the Association of Space Explorers, and regularly supplies on-air commentary for television spaceflight coverage. He is currently active in the debate over our nation’s space exploration policy.
For more, visit www.AstronautTomJones.com.