“A Is for Astronaut”

Brandon shakes Clayton Anderson's hand after the interview.
Brandon shakes Clayton Anderson's hand after the interview.

Brandon with former NASA astronaut Clayton Anderson at the Omaha Children’s Museum in Nebraska

You know about outer space. But have you ever read an alphabet space book?

In March, former NASA astronaut Clayton Anderson published a book for astronomy enthusiasts called A Is for Astronaut: Blasting Through the Alphabet (Sleeping Bear Alphabet Books, 2018). It is illustrated by Scott Brundage.

Anderson is currently on a tour to promote the book. At the Omaha Children’s Museum in Nebraska on July 7, he talked about all things outer space and signed books for fans. Afterwards, I had the chance to interview him.

“I hope kids will be excited about space,” Anderson said. “In A Is for Astronaut, I try to educate and entertain. The book has beautiful pictures, great little poems, and a lot of cool facts about space. It has everything from astronauts and meteors to quasars and spacewalks.”

Anderson is also the author of The Ordinary Spaceman and It’s a Question of Space. He was inspired to write the new picture book, he said, after a bookstore manager suggested the idea.

“I couldn’t understand why she had a name picked out,” Anderson said, “until she showed me a book called A Is for Airplane.”


NASA astronaut Clayton Anderson floating in the Destiny laboratory of the International Space Station during Expedition 15.

Anderson floating in a laboratory aboard the International Space Station in 2007


Becoming an astronaut, Anderson said, was a long and difficult process. “After watching astronauts walk on the moon in 1969, I was pumped,” he added. “I knew back then, when I was 8 years old, that I wanted to become an astronaut. But it wasn’t until my 15th application over 15 years that I was accepted.”

Anderson realized his dream of space travel in 2007. As a member of the Expedition 15 crew, he spent 152 days on board the International Space Station.

Anderson, who grew up in Ashland, Nebraska, has also worked underwater. In 2003, he took on a special assignment, living and working in an underwater laboratory for 14 days.

When asked his advice for young people, Anderson said, “Be a kid. Don’t grow up too fast. When you grow up, figure out what you want to do in life, and be the best you can be.”

Anderson hopes that more people become interested in space exploration. It is, he said, “an investment in our future.”


A is for Astronaut

In his latest book, Anderson takes budding astronauts on a space-themed journey through the alphabet.


Top photo courtesy of the author