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Thomas Akers

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Thomas Dale Akers (born May 20, 1951 in St. Louis, Missouri, USA) is a former astronaut in the United States Space Shuttle program.

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Thomas Dale Akers

He graduated from the University of Missouri - Rolla with B.S. and M.S. degrees in Applied Mathematics in 1973 and 1975, respectively.

In 1979, he entered the Air Force, and was selected for the astronaut program in 1987.

Akers is a veteran of four shuttle flights in which he spent over 800 hours in orbit, including more than 29 hours of extra-vehicular activity (EVA) experience. In each of his flights, his role was as a mission specialist, usually as a payload specialist.

His first space flight was in 1990 on STS-41, the 11th flight of shuttle Discovery. He was instrumental in deploying the European Space Agency satellite Ulysses, a solar-exploration craft, as well as tending several secondary payloads and experiments.

His next mission was in 1992 on STS-49, the maiden flight of shuttle Endeavour. A primary goal of that mission was to capture and repair the non-functional Intelsat VI-F3 satellite. The first two attempts failed; Akers joined the third attempt which was successful. This marks the first three-person EVA in human history and was also the longest EVA (8 hours, 29 minutes) ever conducted to that time. As of January, 2004, it is now the second longest EVA, and is still the only instance of a three-person EVA.

On Akers' third mission in 1993 on STS-61, the 5th flight of Endeavour, he was one of four mission specialists who repaired and upgraded the Hubble Space Telescope on its first servicing mission. Akers spent just under 13.5 hours outside the Endeavour in two EVAs.

His last mission was in 1996 on STS-79, the 17th flight of shuttle Atlantis. This was the fourth shuttle flight to rendezvous with the Russian space station Mir and the first to exchange US astronauts with Mir, returning Shannon Lucid to earth and leaving John Blaha.

Akers retired from NASA in 1997 and the Air Force in 1999 at the rank of Colonel, taking a position as instructor of Mathematics at the University of Missouri - Rolla.

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