Clay Anderson is the only Nebraskan to ever be launched into space, and on Wednesday, at the Lochland Country Club in Hastings, the astronaut announced his plans for retirement.
Anderson said he was given the option for an early retirement and took it, but he said he will continue to dream big.
Clay Anderson is the third honoree from Leadership Hastings to receive the Tom Osborne Leadership award. He's in the ranks of Tom Osborne and Dan Whitney (Larry the Cable Guy). Anderson said, "It's an honor to receive an award with both the words ‘Tom Osborne' and ‘Leadership.'"
He hopes his dreams and accomplishments will help inspire the next generation of leaders.
The Ashland–native joined the Johnson Space Center in 1983 in the Missions Planning and Analysis Division. He was selected as a mission specialist in 1998 and has logged 167 days in space, as well as 38 hours and 28 minutes in six space-walks. He also completed five months aboard the International Space Station in 2007.
The astronaut has seen our planet from 220 miles above, and when asked what that feeling was like, he said it's something you cannot put into words. "I was Superman everyday…It's hard to describe in picture or video but it's the ultimate experience to live and work in zero gravity."
Anderson had plenty to say to his supporters as he accepted the Tom Osborne Leadership Award. He said, "It doesn't matter where you're from, it doesn't matter how big or small your town is, it doesn't matter what your school size was, if you want to do something special you can do something special. Work hard and dream big."
NASA's space shuttle era ran from April 1981 to July 2011 and inspired many generations, something Anderson hopes he will continue to do. "You should never give up on your dreams; find a way to achieve them."
When asked about his future goals Anderson said he has yet to figure that it out. He said, "I have more to do in my life, something is out there that I need to go do."