The Associated Press
Profiles of the six Americans and Israel's first astronaut who were aboard space shuttle Columbia:
The crew: front row, Rick Husband, Kalpana Chawla, William McCool; back row, David Brown, Laurel Clark, Michael Anderson and Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon.
Lt. Col. Michael Anderson
Payload commander Michael Anderson was teaching pilots how to fly refueling aircraft at Plattsburgh Air Force Base in New York when NASA chose him as one of only a handful of black astronauts.
"He was ideally suited for it," said Rich Cantwell, chief of military justice at the base during the years Anderson was there and now the district attorney in Clinton County. "He knew what his job was and he was one of those guys who could do his job so well and make it look so easy."
NAME: Michael P. Anderson, payload commander.|
AGE-BIRTH DATE: 43. Born Dec. 25, 1959, in Plattsburgh, N.Y.
EDUCATION: Bachelor's degree in physics/astronomy, University of Washington, 1981; master's in physics, Creighton University, 1990.
CAREER: Air Force lieutenant colonel. Selected by NASA in 1994. From 1992 to 1995, served as an instructor pilot and tactics officer in the 380th Air Refueling Wing at Plattsburgh, N.Y. In 1988 flew on shuttle mission that docked with Mir space station.
The son of an Air Force man, Anderson was born in Plattsburgh, grew up on military bases but considered Spokane, Wash., his hometown. He developed his love of flying early.
"I was always fascinated by science-fiction shows, shows like 'Star Trek' and 'Lost in Space,"' Anderson, 43, said in a recent interview. "And going out of your house and looking up and seeing jets fly by, that seemed like another very exciting thing to do."
"So it all kind of came together at a very young age, and I thought being an astronaut would be the perfect job."
In 1998, Anderson traveled to Russia's Mir space station. On the Columbia mission, the lieutenant colonel was in charge of dozens of science experiments. To him, the risks of flying were worth it.
"I take the risk because I think what we're doing is really important. If you look at this research flight and if you really take an opportunity to look at each experiment ... the potential yield that we have is really tremendous," he said.
David M. Brown
David M. Brown was a varsity gymnast at the College of William and Mary in Virginia when he got a phone call: 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.
NAME: Dr. David M. Brown, mission specialist.|
AGE-BIRTH DATE: 46. Born April 16, 1956, in Arlington, Va.
EDUCATION: Bachelor's degree in biology, College of William and Mary, 1978; doctorate in medicine, Eastern Virginia Medical School, 1982.
CAREER: Navy captain, pilot and doctor. Served as director of medical services at Navy Branch Hospital in Adak, Alaska. Became naval aviator in Beeville, Texas, in 1990, went to test pilot school in 1995 as flight surgeon.
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, 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," 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.
At a speech in September at the College of William and Mary, Brown told the freshman class that the risks of spaceflight were no greater than risks taken by his school's founders.
"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," Brown said. "I think my chances of making it back are far better than were Blair's." ---
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," the 41-year-old engineer said in an interview earlier this year. 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.
NAME: Kalpana Chawla, mission specialist.|
AGE-BIRTH DATE: 41. Born July 1, 1961, in Karnal, India.
EDUCATION: Bachelor's degree in aeronautical engineering, Punjab Engineering College, India, 1982; master's in aerospace engineering, University of Texas, 1984; doctorate in aerospace engineering, University of Colorado, 1988.
CAREER: Began work at NASA Ames Research Center in 1988. Joined Overset Methods Inc., of Los Altos, Calif., as vice president and research scientist in 1993. Selected by NASA for astronaut program in 1994. Flew on shuttle mission in 1997 as mission specialist and prime robotic arm operator.
Chawla was the first India native to fly on a space shuttle but the second in space, after Rakesh Sharma, who flew on an Indo-Soviet mission in 1984.
She was a hero in her native country, which has launched satellites for years and is preparing for a moon orbit this decade. One Indian news agency even tracked Columbia's flight so it could tell readers the exact minute they could wave to the skies to hail their countrywoman.
In a 1998 interview with India Today, Chawla said she never thought about being "the first or second someone" in space. "When you look at the stars and the galaxy, you feel that you are not just from any particular piece of land, but from the solar system."
Chawla enjoyed flying aerobatics and tail-wheel airplanes. She told reporters before the Columbia flight that J.R.D. Tata, who flew the first mail flights in India, captivated her imagination and prompted her to take up aeronautics as a career.
On her only other spaceflight, in 1997, she made mistakes that sent a science satellite tumbling out of control. Other astronauts had to go on a spacewalk to capture it. NASA later acknowledged that the instructions to the crew may not have been clear.
"I stopped thinking about it after trying to figure out what are the lessons learned, and there are so many," she said. "After I had basically sorted that out, I figured it's time to really look at the future and not at the past."
Laurel Clark was a diving medical officer aboard submarines and then a flight surgeon before she became an astronaut in 1996. She had been on board Columbia to help with more than 80 science experiments.
"She was doing something that she cared deeply about, that she was very good at," said her father, Robert Salton, 69, of Albuquerque, N.M. In fact, he said, "she was pretty good at everything."
NAME: Dr. Laurel Blair Salton Clark, mission specialist.|
AGE-BIRTH DATE: 41. Born March 10, 1961, in Ames, Iowa.
EDUCATION: Bachelor's degree in zoology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1983; doctorate in medicine, UW-Madison, 1987.
CAREER: Navy commander. Worked as diving medical officer aboard submarines, and naval flight surgeon. Selected by NASA in April 1996.
FAMILY: Married, one child.
The 41-year-old was married with an 8-year-old son and lived in Racine, Wis.
Clark "had done something in a world usually reserved for men and she was pleased at the opportunity," said her aunt, Betty Haviland, of Ames, Iowa.
Clark knew space flight remained risky. "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 said.
Clark's family already had been wracked by national tragedy: Timothy Haviland, her cousin and Haviland's son, died in the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center.
"Grief and death happens to a lot of people, but you don't usually watch it on national television and not once but a thousand times," Haviland said. "And you can't not watch because that's your son or your niece up there."
Dan Salton received an e-mail from his sister Friday about how much she was enjoying her experience aboard the shuttle.
"She loved it," he said. "I'm just so glad she got to get up to space and got to see it because that had been a dream for a long time."
Col. Rick Husband
Four days before he was killed aboard space shuttle Columbia, Col. Rick Husband took a moment of silence to remember the astronauts who died in previous space disasters.
"It is today that we remember and honor the crews of Apollo 1 and Challenger," the shuttle commander said on Tuesday, the 17th anniversary of the Challenger explosion.
NAME: Rick D. Husband, shuttle commander.|
AGE-BIRTH DATE: 45.
EDUCATION: Bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering, Texas Tech University, 1980; master's in mechanical engineering, California State University-Fresno, 1990.
CAREER: Navy colonel. Became NASA astronaut in 1994. Served as pilot of space craft in 1999, a 10-day mission that involved the first docking with the international space station.
PERSONAL: Married, two children.
"They made the ultimate sacrifice, giving their lives and service to the country and for all mankind," Husband radioed from Columbia before the airwaves went silent. "Their dedication and devotion to the exploration of space was an inspiration to each of us and still motivates people around the world to achieve great things and service to others."
The 45-year-old Air Force colonel, a test pilot before he was selected as an astronaut in 1994, was on his second spaceflight. He was part of a 10-day mission in 1999 that involved the crew's first docking aboard an international space station.
Husband said he had been dreaming of going into space since he was a child.
"It's been pretty much a lifelong dream and just a thrill to be able to get to actually live it out," Husband said in a recent interview.
Husband studied at Texas Tech University and earned his master's degree in 1990 from California State University in Fresno. He took a red Bulldog sweatshirt into space with him and planned to present it to the school in April, university spokesman Tom Uribes said.
In southeast Houston, where he lived with his wife and two children, he sang in the Grace Community Church choir.
"He was a wonderful man, a very strong Christian," neighbor Debbie Chatham said, sobbing Saturday. "He was very dedicated to God and helping other people."
William C. McCool
William C. McCool was an experienced Navy pilot with more than 2,800 hours in flight. But two weeks into his first trip into space, the 41-year-old astronaut was bursting with amazement.
"There is so much more than what I ever expected," McCool told National Public Radio on Jan. 30 from the space shuttle Columbia. "It's beyond imagination, until you actually get up and see it and experience it and feel it.
NAME: William C. McCool, pilot|
AGE-BIRTH DATE: 41. Born Sept. 23, 1961, in San Diego.
EDUCATION: Bachelor's degree in applied science, U.S. Naval Academy, 1983; master's degree in computer science, University of Maryland, 1985; master's in aeronautical engineering, the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, 1992.
CAREER: Navy commander. Worked as a test pilot in Flight Systems Department of Strike Aircraft Test Directorate at Patuxent River, Md. Selected by NASA in April 1996.
McCool, 41, grew up building model airplanes in Lubbock, Texas, and followed in his father's footsteps as a naval aviator. An Eagle Scout, he graduated second in his class in 1983 from the U.S. Naval Academy.
He went onto test pilot school, with assignments in Patuxent River, Md., and deployment aboard aircraft carriers in the Mediterranean Sea. He became an astronaut in 1996. His mission aboard the Columbia was his first spaceflight.
A former NASA astronaut, Winston Scott, called McCool "my basketball buddy."
He was married with three sons aged 14 to 22. His mother, Audrey McCool, said Saturday her son's death should not stop the country from sending men and women into space.
"We want the space mission to go on," she said. "We don't want those people to have died in vain."
Israel's first astronaut, Ilan Ramon, knew he was carrying the hopes of an entire people into space.
The 48-year-old Israeli air force colonel carried a microfiche of the Bible given him by his country's president, a tiny Torah scroll given to a Holocaust survivor at a Nazi concentration camp and a small pencil drawing titled "Moon Landscape" by a boy killed at the Auschwitz camp.
NAME: Ilan Ramon, payload specialist|
AGE-BIRTH DATE: 48. Born June 20, 1954, in Tel Aviv, Israel.
EDUCATION: Graduated as a fighter pilot from Israel Air Force Flight School in 1974. Bachelor's degree in electronics and computer engineering from the University of Tel Aviv in 1987.
CAREER: In 1980, became one of first Israeli pilots training to fly F-16s. Promoted to colonel in 1994. From 1994-1998, assigned as head of operational requirement for weapon development and acquisition.
PERSONAL: Married, four children.
Ramon, the son of a Holocaust survivor, was not particularly religious but decided to eat kosher food in orbit, saying before the flight that he wanted "to respect all kinds of Jews all over the world."
Ramon, a veteran of two Israeli wars, was one of the fighter pilots who destroyed an unfinished nuclear reactor in Iraq in 1981, a senior Israeli government official said last month on condition of anonymity. The attack was a milestone for Israeli aviation because the planes flew over enemy territory for hours without detection.
NASA selected Ramon in 1997 to be a payload specialist. Along with his wife and their four children, he had been living in Texas for several years as he prepared for the flight.
He spent much of Columbia's 16-day flight aiming cameras in an Israel Space Agency study of how desert dust and other contaminants in Earth's atmosphere affect rainfall and temperature.
His presence on the shuttle, in light of 28 months of fighting between Israel and Palestinians, led to increased security surrounding the flight. But it also was a source of pride in a nation worn by the grinding conflict.
He became a national hero overnight as newspapers featured him on the front page, and Israel television broadcast the Jan. 16 liftoff live.
Ronit Federman, a friend of Ramon's since high school, took comfort from e-mails he sent from space.
"He wrote about the divine happiness of looking at Earth," she told Israel's Channel 10 television. "He wrote that he would like to keep floating for the rest of his life. That was the last sentence he wrote to us."
(Complete Columbia coverage at Cincinnati.com)
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