Thomas D. Jones is a scientist, author, pilot, and former NASA astronaut. He holds a doctorate in planetary sciences, and in more than eleven years with NASA, flew on four space shuttle missions to Earth orbit. On his last flight, Dr. Jones led three spacewalks to install the centerpiece of the International Space Station, the American Destiny laboratory. He has spent fifty-three days working and living in space.
After graduation from the Air Force Academy, Tom piloted B-52D strategic bombers, studied asteroids for NASA, engineered intelligence-gathering systems for the CIA, and as a NASA contractor, developed advanced mission concepts to explore the solar system. Tom is the author of three recent space and aviation books: Planetology, (written with Ellen Stofan), Hell Hawks! The Untold Story of the American Fliers Who Savaged Hitler's Wehrmacht (with Robert F. Dorr), and Sky Walking: An Astronaut's Memoir. Mission: Earth, and The Scholastic Encyclopedia of the U.S. at War are for young readers. He writes frequently for Air & Space Smithsonian, Aerospace America, Popular Mechanics, and American Heritage magazines.
Dr. Jones' awards include the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, four NASA Space Flight Medals, the NASA Exceptional Service award, the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, the NASA Exceptional Public Service award, Phi Beta Kappa, and the Air Force Commendation Medal. King’s College of Wilkes-Barre, Penn. awarded him an honorary doctorate in 2007. The Main Belt asteroid 1082 TomJones is named in his honor.
Tom served on the NASA Advisory Council and is a board member of the Association of Space Explorers and the Astronauts Memorial Foundation. As a senior research scientist at the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, he focuses on the future direction of human space exploration, uses of asteroid and space resources, and planetary defense. Jones was a member of the 2012 study team proposing an asteroid capture and retrieval mission to NASA. He appears frequently on-air with expert commentary on science and space flight.