Skip to comments.Profiles of Space Shuttle Columbia Crew
Posted on 02/01/2003 7:23:06 AM PST by kattracks
Commander Rick Husband has just one other spaceflight under his belt and already he's flying as commander. That's a rarity.
"I think a lot of it has to do with being in the right place at the right time, for starters," says Husband, 45, an Air Force colonel from Amarillo, Texas.
The former test pilot was selected as an astronaut in 1994 on his fourth try. He made up his mind as a child that that was what he was going to do with his life.
"It's been pretty much a lifelong dream and just a thrill to be able to get to actually live it out," he says.
Another lifelong passion: singing.
Husband, a baritone, has been singing in church choirs for years. He used to sing in barbershop quartets, back during his school days.
Pilot William McCool says one of the most nerve-racking parts of training for this scientific research mission was learning to draw blood -- from others.
Columbia's two pilots are exempted from invasive medical tests in orbit, like blood draws. That means he and his commander have to draw blood from their crewmates.
McCool felt bad practicing on NASA volunteers.
"I didn't want to inflict pain," he recalls. "We weren't really gathering science, so everything that they were going through was for my benefit, and I guess I felt bad a little bit."
The 41-year-old Navy commander, a father of three sons, graduated second in his 1983 class at the Naval Academy. He went on to test pilot school and became an astronaut in 1996. This is his first spaceflight.
McCool grew up in Lubbock, Texas.
Payload commander Michael Anderson loves flying, both in aircraft and spacecraft, but he dislikes being launched.
It's the risk factor. "There's always that unknown," he says.
Anderson, 43, the son of an Air Force man, grew up on military bases.
"I was always fascinated by science-fiction shows, shows like 'Star Trek' and 'Lost in +Space+,"' he says. "And going out of your house and looking up and seeing jets fly by, that seemed like another very exciting thing to do. So I knew I wanted to fly airplanes, and I knew I wanted to do something really exciting, and I always had a natural interest in science.
"So it all kind of came together at a very young age, and I thought being an astronaut would be the perfect job."
Anderson was flying for the Air Force when NASA chose him in 1994 as one of only a handful of black astronauts. He traveled to Russia's Mir space station in 1998.
He is now a lieutenant colonel and in charge of Columbia's dozens of science experiments. His home is Spokane, Wash.
When Kalpana Chawla emigrated to the United States from India in the 1980s, she wanted to design aircraft. The space program was the furthest thing from her mind.
"That would be too far-fetched," says the 41-year-old engineer. But "one thing led to another," and she was chosen as an astronaut in 1994 after working at NASA's Ames Research Center and Overset Methods Inc. in Northern California.
On her only other spaceflight, in 1996, Chawla made a pair of mistakes that sent a science satellite tumbling out of control. Two other astronauts had to go out on a spacewalk to capture it.
"I stopped thinking about it after trying to figure out what are the lessons learned, and there are so many," she says. "After I had basically sorted that out, I figured it's time to really look at the future and not at the past."
She realizes some may see this flight as her chance to redeem herself.
David Brown is a Navy novelty: He's both a pilot and a doctor. He's also probably the only NASA astronaut to have worked as a circus performer.
Brown was a varsity gymnast at the College of William and Mary when he got a phone call one day: Would he like to join the circus? So during the summer of 1976, he was an acrobat, tumbler, stilt walker and 7-foot unicycle rider.
"What I really learned from that, and transfers directly to what I'm doing on this crew, is kind of the team work and the safety and the staying focused, even at the end of a long day when you're tired and you're doing some things that may have some risk to them."
He joined the Navy after his medical internship and went on to fly the A-6E Intruder and F-18. His current rank is captain.
NASA chose him as an astronaut in 1996. This is his first spaceflight; he will help with all the experiments.
Brown, 46, is taking up a flag from Yorktown High School in Arlington, Va., his alma mater, that another graduate took up Mount Everest. "I'm going to get it a little bit higher up, but I won't have to walk as far to get it there."
Laurel Clark, a Navy physician who worked undersea, likens the numerous launch delays to a marathon in which the finish line keeps moving out five miles.
"You've got to slow back down and maintain a pace," she says.
The 41-year-old Clark was a diving medical officer aboard submarines and then a naval flight surgeon. She became an astronaut in 1996.
Her family, including her 8-year-old son, worry sometimes about her being an astronaut. But she tells everyone "what an aggressive safety program we have."
"To me, there's a lot of different things that we do during life that could potentially harm us and I choose not to stop doing those things," she notes. "They've all come to accept that it's what I want to do."
She will help with Columbia's science experiments, which should have flown almost two years ago.
Her home is Racine, Wis.
Ilan Ramon, a colonel in Israel's air force, is the first Israeli to be launched into space.
"For Israel and for the Jewish community, it's something beyond being in space," he says. "It's a very symbolic mission."
His mother and grandmother survived the Auschwitz death camp, and his father was a Zionist who fought for Israel's statehood alongside his own father. The astronaut also fought for his country, in the Yom Kippur War in 1973 and the Lebanon War in 1982.
"I was born in Israel as an Israeli, so I'm kind of a dream fulfillment for all this last-century generation," he says.
Ramon, 48, served as a fighter pilot during the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s, flying F-16s and F-4s. He was promoted in 1994 to lead Israel's department of operational requirement for weapon development and acquisition. He was selected as his country's first astronaut in 1997 and moved to Houston in 1998 to train for a shuttle flight.
He and his wife, Rona, have four children and call Tel Aviv home.
I sit in stunned silence
God bless them all. May He strengthen and comfort their families.
The careful texts-books measure (Let all who build beware!) The load, the shock, the pressure Material can bear. So, when the buckled girder Lets down the grinding span, The blame of loss, or murder, Is laid upon the man. Not on the Stuff - the Man! But in our daily dealing With stone and steel, we find The Gods have no such feeling Of justice toward mankind. To no set gauge they make us,- For no laid course prepare- And presently o'ertake us With loads we cannot bear. Too merciless to bear. The prudent text-books give it In tables at the end- The stress that shears a rivet Or makes a tie-bar bend- What traffic wrecks macadam- What concrete should endure- But we, poor Sons of Adam, Have no such literature, To warn us or make sure! We hold all Earth to plunder- All Time and Space as well- Too wonder-stale to wonder At each new miracle; Till, in the mid-illusion Of Godhead 'neath our hand, Falls multiple confusion On all we did or planned. The mighty works we planned. < We only of Creation (Oh, luckier bridge and rail!) Abide the twin-damnation- To fail and know we fail. Yet we-by which sole token We know we once were Gods- Take shame in being broken However great the odds- The burden or the Odds. Oh, veiled and secret Power Whose paths we seek in vain, Be with us in our hour Of overthrow and pain; That we - by which sure token We know Thy ways are true- In spite of being broken. Because of being broken, May rise and build anew. Stand by and build anew!
May He grant His peace to their families. In Jesus' holy name.............
Interesting they already felt that way in 1935.
PUBLISH DATE: Friday, May 21, 1999
Cmdr. David M. Brown has spent his career going through the list of every little boy's fantasy occupations. He worked in a circus. He's flown Navy jets onto the deck of an aircraft carrier. Recently, he trained to be a firefighter. Oh, and he's an astronaut.
``I'm kind of a guy who can't hold a steady job,'' he likes to say.
Brown - who somewhere in there found time to earn a medical degree - will be in Norfolk this weekend to speak at the commencement of Eastern Virginia Medical School.
When he does, he will rack up an accomplishment that's not nearly as gee-whiz, but is nevertheless notable in Hampton Roads. He will become the first alumnus of the relatively young EVMS to return as a graduation speaker.
After that, he travels to Florida to work on a team preparing a space shuttle for an upcoming launch.
Brown has yet to go on his first shuttle mission. His astronaut ``class'' started two years of training in 1996. Several people from that class have now done missions.
``It's moving in my direction,'' he said.
Brown doesn't know when he'll get his chance, or what his job will be. He might conduct experiments, or act as flight engineer, or take a walk in space.
``At some point, I would hope to be a crew member on the international space station,'' he said.
For next week's launch, he will be in a group charged with preparing the shuttle cockpit, inspecting the more than 2,000 switches and circuit breakers that must be working perfectly. Brown is 43, and, like most Americans of his generation, had his childhood defined in part by the accomplishments of the U.S. space program.
``The thing I think NASA's always represented to me is it's always an organization that pushed boundaries,'' he said.
Yet he never even dreamed of becoming an astronaut himself. He often mentions this when he talks to schoolchildren about our tendency to underestimate what we can accomplish.
``When I was growing up, I would have said being an astronaut is the coolest thing you could do,' he said. ``I've always considered myself a normal person, and doing that (seemed) really just too hard . . .
``I think, growing up, some ideas I had were wrong about what I could achieve,'' he said.
After graduating from high school in Arlington in 1974, he studied biology at the College of William and Mary. He was a member of the college gymnastics team, and that's how he got his first nifty job.
A small circus performing at Busch Gardens needed acrobats to fill in for a few weeks. No one else on the William and Mary team wanted to do it, but Brown took the job.
He learned to ride a 7-foot-tall unicycle. (The 10-footer went to someone with more experience.) He walked on stilts. Mostly he did acrobatics. His big finale was jumping from a trampoline over the heads of the band and landing in the moat by a ``castle.''
``There were no casualties,'' he said with a laugh.
After graduating from college in 1978, he delayed medical school so he could earn his pilot's license.
Brown's love for the unconventional challenge may be part of what led him to EVMS in 1979.
The school was a youngster then - it opened in 1972 - and tiny compared to the state's other two medical colleges, the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond and the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.
When Brown visited ``campus,'' the only building was Smith-Rogers Hall, an old nursing dormitory by the Hague that today houses administrative offices. The main class building, Lewis Hall, was still under construction on the actualcampus a mile down the road.
Brown visited the new building and peered through a locked door. ``There was an electrical conduit hanging from the ceiling. There was sheet rock not quite done. There was dust everywhere.''
But the people impressed him, even if the building did not. ``They looked you in the eye when they shook your hand,'' he said. ``I didn't feel I was in a long line of applicants, where they say, `Next,' and stamp your form.''
When he entered EVMS, he planned to become a family practice doctor. But working at the Portsmouth Naval Hospital changed that.
``All the guys who had been flight surgeons - they had all the best stories.''
He graduated from EVMS in 1982, spent a year doing his family practice residency in South Carolina, then interrupted his training when he joined the Navy.
He became a ``flight surgeon'' - a misnomer, since his jobs never involved surgery. His various assignments included taking care of pilots on the carrier Carl Vinson in San Diego.
He decided to join a very small group of Navy doctors trained as carrier pilots. ``I applied and I was turned down, which I didn't really like.''
So he applied again. In 1988, he became the only flight surgeon in 10 years to be chosen for pilot training, eventually graduating at the top of his class. Since then, Brown has logged more than 1,300 hours in military aircraft.
Now he is based in Houston, though he travels frequently, often flying one of NASA's T-38 Talons to assignments around the country. He just returned from two weeks in Russia, where he trained in Russian spacecraft and equipment.
Recently, Brown got to try out another cool job, training with a NASA fire crew in Florida.
And last year, he revisited his first unusual occupation, attending a reunion of the circus he worked for in college. He bounced a few times on a trampoline, though he didn't try anything dangerous.
``That was 20 years ago,'' he said. ``You have to be careful.''
Astronaut Brown was Navy pilot, W&M and EVMS grad
© February 1, 2003
Last updated: 4:05 PM
|David M. Brown at Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia Beach in 1997.
David M. Brown said the chances of him dying in a catastrophic space accident were nothing compared to the risks taken by the founders of William and Mary in the 1690s.
``Over his life, James Blair made five trips and 10 crossings of the Atlantic Ocean that were dedicated to the founding of the university. Each voyage was extremely risky,'' a college publication quoted Brown as saying. ``I think my chances of making it back are far better than were Blair's'' each time he sailed.
Brown was a varsity gymnast at William and Mary when he got a phone call one day: Would he like to join the circus? So during the summer of 1976, he was an acrobat, tumbler, stilt walker and 7-foot unicycle rider.
``What I really learned from that, and transfers directly to what I'm doing on this crew, is kind of the team work and the safety and the staying focused, even at the end of a long day when you're tired and you're doing some things that may have some risk to them,'' he said.
Brown, a Navy pilot and a physician, received his undergraduate biology degree from William and Mary in 1978 and earned his medical degree from Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk in 1982.
Brown joined the Navy after his medical internship and went on to fly the A-6E Intruder and FA-18 Hornet.
NASA chose him as an astronaut in 1996. A mission specialist, he helped with the scientific experiments on the shuttle Columbia. He worked the graveyard shift on Columbia's round-the-clock science mission.
Brown, 46, soared into orbit on Jan. 16 with a flag from Yorktown High in Arlington, his alma mater, that another graduate took up Mount Everest.
``I'm going to get it a little bit higher up, but I won't have to walk as far to get it there,'' he said before his first spaceflight.
Brown had said Friday from orbit that the crew was looking forward to coming home.
``As much as we've enjoyed it up here, we're also starting to look forward to seeing all the people back on Earth that we miss and love so much,'' he said.