Jones, Thomas D. 1955-

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Jones, Thomas D. 1955-
(Thomas David Jones)


Born January 22, 1955, in Baltimore, MD. Education: United States Air Force Academy, B.S., 1977; University of Arizona, Ph.D., 1988. Hobbies and other interests: Baseball, hiking, biking, camping, skiing, reading, and recreational flying.


Agent—c/o Author Mail, HarperCollins Publishers, 10 E. 53rd St., New York, NY 10022.


Astronaut, pilot, scientist, speaker, author, and consultant. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Washington, DC, program management engineer for Office of Development and Engineering, 1989-90; Science Applications International Corporation, Washington, DC, senior scientist, 1990; National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Washington, DC, advanced program planner for Solar System Exploration Division, 1990, astronaut, 1991- 2001, mission specialist on two flights of space shuttle Endeavour, 1994, flew on space shuttle Columbia, 1996, flew on space shuttle Atlantis, 2001. Military service: U.S. Air Force, 1977-83, resigning as captain.


American Astronomical Society, American Geophysical Union, Association of Space Explorers, Phi Beta Kappa.


Air Force Commendation Medal, 1983; Space Flight Medal, 1994, 1996, 2001, Outstanding Leadership Medal, 1995, Exceptional Service Award, 1997, 2000, and Distinguished Service Medal, all from NASA; Komarov Diploma, Federation Aéronautique Internationale, 1995, 1997.



(With June A. English) Mission, Earth: Voyage to the Home Planet (young adult), Scholastic (New York, NY), 1996.

(With June A. English) Scholastic Encyclopedia of the United States at War (young adult), Scholastic (New York, NY), 1998, new edition, 2003.

(With Michael Benson) The Complete Idiot's Guide to NASA, Alpha Books (Indianapolis, IN), 2002.

Sky Walking: An Astronaut's Memoir, Smithsonian Books (New York, NY), 2006.

Contributor to periodicals, including Air and Space Smithsonian, Aerospace America, Flight Journal, and World War II History.


Astronaut Thomas D. Jones is a veteran of four NASA space flights, spending a total of over fifty-two days in space and participating in three space walks. His first two missions occurred in 1994 aboard the space shuttle Endeavour. Two years later, Jones flew on Columbia, successfully deploying and retrieving two satellites, while helping to set an endurance record with close to eighteen days in orbit. His final flight before retiring was on Atlantis in 2001, where Jones and his crew participated in three space walks in order to successfully install the U.S. Destiny Laboratory Module in the Space Station, creating the largest space outpost in history.

In 1996 Jones wrote his first book, Mission, Earth: Voyage to the Home Planet, with June A. English. In the book, the authors give a first-person account of Jones's two flights in the Endeavour space shuttle during the Mission to Planet Earth program in 1994. The authors detail the goals of the mission, which included mapping, photographing, and studying changes in the earth's environment in order to provide scientists with more information and a greater ability to find solutions to environmental problems. Reviews of Mission, Earth were mixed. Ilana Steinhorn, writing in Booklist, felt that Jones and English "try to cover too much in so few pages," and "the narrative … becomes simplified at times." A Publishers Weekly contributor felt differently, pointing out that Jones's "enthusiasm for his work is contagious; it shines through the text, making for a roundly enjoyable and informative read."

Jones and English teamed up again to write Scholastic Encyclopedia of the United States at War, which details the United States' involvement in eleven major conflicts, from the American Revolution to the Gulf War. A revised edition, published in 2003, gives information regarding the war in Iraq. A Booklist critic called it "a worthy addition to the [Scholastic Encyclopedia] series."

Jones followed this effort with The Complete Idiot's Guide to NASA, written with Michael Benson. The book describes what it is like to live in space, and also focuses on the subjects of space science, manned flight, space walks, and the future of space travel. The Complete Idiot's Guide to NASA elicited mostly positive reviews. Air Power History reviewer Jacob Neufeld was disappointed by some of the book's omissions, but nevertheless called it "informative and fascinating," further commenting that "the book delivers what it advertises—inspiration for would-be astronauts and fascinating information about NASA." Likewise, Andrew S. Fazekas, writing in Astronomy, noted, "Written in a straightforward style, this guide provides a fascinating glimpse into the world's leading space agency," and concluded that "space lovers will be hard-pressed to find such a thorough, accessible history of spaceflight in one publication."

In 2006 Jones published Sky Walking: An Astronaut's Memoir. Jones's memoir describes in detail his motivations for becoming an astronaut, his rigorous training, and his subsequent four trips into space. Many reviews of Sky Walking were positive. A Science News reviewer pointed out that the book is "jargonfree and without bravado," while Booklist contributor Gilbert Taylor called it "unusually expressive" and found that Jones's "descriptions of launches and landings … are as engrossing as any in the [spaceflight] literature." A Kirkus Reviews critic disagreed, stating that Jones "doesn't provide much excitement" and "lack[s] the touch of the true writer." However, a Publishers Weekly contributor maintained that "with humanity and passion ;h3 Jones powerfully brings to life the world of the modern NASA astronaut."



Jones, Thomas D., Sky Walking: An Astronaut's Memoir, Smithsonian Books (New York, NY), 2006.


Air Power History, summer, 2002, Jacob Neufeld, review of The Complete Idiot's Guide to NASA, p. 55.

Astronomy, January, 2003, Andrew S. Fazekas, review of The Complete Idiot's Guide to NASA, p. 95.

Booklist, October 15, 1996, Ilana Steinhorn, review of Mission, Earth: Voyage to the Home Planet, p. 415; October 15, 1998, review of Scholastic Encyclopedia of the United States at War, p. 444; January 1, 2006, Gilbert Taylor, review of Sky Walking, p. 40.

Entertainment Weekly, February 10, 2006, Eric Kohn, review of Sky Walking, p. 140.

Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2005, review of Sky Walking, p. 1311.

Publishers Weekly, September 16, 1996, review of Mission, Earth, p. 84; November 28, 2005, review of Sky Walking, p. 36.

Science News, April 1, 2006, review of Sky Walking, p. 207.


Astronaut Scholarship Foundation Web site, http:// (July 14, 2006), author biography.

NASA Johnson Space Center Web site, http://www.jsc. (July 14, 2006), author biography.

Space Agency Web site, http://www.thespaceagency. org/ (July 14, 2006), author biography.

Tom Jones Home Page, http://www.AstronautTom (August 25, 2006).

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Jones, Thomas D. 1955-

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