In 1998, Clayton Anderson was a 29-year-old aerospace engineer who wanted to fulfil his childhood dream of going to space.
One agency was stopping him from getting there: NASA.
The government agency had rejected Anderson’s application for its astronaut training program 15 times.
But Anderson is one of those people whose dogged perseverance is inspiring.
Anderson didn’t feel depressesd after getting yet another rejection letter from NASA. He said he actually felt “hope” whenever he received one: “Most applicants receive postcards; a letter sent on stationary meant something.”
But so many rejections after so many years can wear on a man, and Anderson decided that his 16th attempt would be his last one. Fortunately, that last attempt was all he needed.
In August of 1998, Anderson reported for training, which included “numerous scientific and technical briefings, intensive instruction in Shuttle and International Space Station (ISS) systems, physiological training, ground school to prepare for T-38 flight training, as well as learning water and wilderness survival techniques.”
In 2007, Anderson boarded the Space Shuttle Atlantis for a trip to the International Space Station as a flight engineer on his father’s birthday and returned to earth five months later on his wedding anniversary. Three years later, he went to space a second time as a mission specialist on STS-131.
Anderson is the first and only astronaut from Nebraska and has logged 167 days in space, including more than 38 hours in spacewalks. You can read his expedition journals here.
In January of 2013, the 54-year-old retired from NASA and is now turning his attention to education. David Hendee writes at the World-Herald that Anderson has opportunities at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and Iowa State University’s aerospace engineering program.
If this story doesn’t embody the “never give up” motto, we’re not sure what does.
Below is one of Anderson’s rejection letters featured in the book “Other People’s Rejection Letters“:
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