Former NASA astronaut Dr. Don Thomas spent 44 days in space as part of four separate space shuttle missions. He retired from the prestigious space agency 12 years ago and now shares his stories and experiences with kids across the country. Dr. Thomas visited six libraries in Charleston County last month as part of the public library system's "A Universe of Stories" summer reading theme. The visit also coincided with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Watching the launch of Alan Shepard, the first American to go to space, inspired Dr. Thomas to become an astronaut, so he knows the power of inspiration when it comes to the next generation.
"I was able to have my dream and accomplish it, and my mission now is to help the next generation. I'm too old to go to Mars, but 25 years from now, we'll be sending astronauts to Mars. And that generation going to Mars is our young students today. We call them the 'Mars Generation,' so I tell them, 'work hard in school every single day. You always want to do your best and to never - don't ever give up on that dream," Thomas says.