always wanted to fly planes and rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel
in the Air Force," President George W. Bush said. "Along the way,
he became a role model, especially for his two daughters and for
the many children he spoke to in schools. He said to them, 'Whatever
you want to be in life, you're training for it now.'"
And U.S. Air
Force Lt. Col. Michael Anderson did prepare early in life for being
He was born
in 1959 in Plattsburgh, N.Y., but he considered Spokane, Wash.,
to be his hometown. His dad was in the Air Force, and Anderson was
exposed to aviation as a kid. He said that science caught his attention
when he was young. These interests were two of the reasons why he
wanted to be an astronaut.
at that time, we were going to the Moon and doing some really fantastic
things with the space program," he said. "And, to me that
was just the best combination of the two. You know, here you have
these men that are scientists, engineers, and they're also flying
these wonderful airplanes and these great spaceships, and they're
going places. And to me, that just seemed like the perfect mix and
the perfect job. So, very early on, I just thought being an astronaut
would be a fantastic thing to do."
While at Cheney
High School in Cheney, Wash., Anderson said he began to think about
what college to go to and what to major in so that he could have
a shot at becoming an astronaut. He decided to pick a science field
that was broad.
physics because out of all the different scientific fields, I think
physics is probably the broadest," he said. "It covers
basically everything. It allows you to really take your interest
and point it in any direction you'd like to point [it] in. So, I
went to the University of Washington as a physics and astronomy
major. And just had a marvelous time. I found it very challenging,
interest, of course, was aviation. I always wanted to be a pilot.
I wanted to fly airplanes. And, if you're going to fly airplanes,
the best place to be is the Air Force. So, I went through the ROTC
program there, and they provided me with a scholarship to help me
pay for college."
a bachelor's degree in physics/astronomy from Washington in 1981.
Then, he received a commission from the U.S. Air Force as a second
stint in the Air Force, Anderson received a master's degree in physics
in 1990 from Creighton University in Omaha, Neb. Anderson flew various
models of the KC-135 and the T-38A aircraft, logging more than 3,000
hours of flight time. He also became an instructor pilot.
a step closer to fulfilling his dream of becoming an astronaut in
late 1994 when NASA selected him as an astronaut candidate.
you just sort of pursue your interests," he said, "and
you pray about it, and hopefully one day all things will kind of
fall into place. And you'll have a chance to make those dreams come
true. And fortunately for me, it did happen that way."
In the same
preflight interview, he went on to say that he hasn't been disappointed,
"And it's been a marvelous adventure. I've enjoyed every bit
first space flight occurred in 1998 when he flew as a mission specialist
on Space Shuttle Endeavour during STS-89. That flight was the eighth
Shuttle/Mir mission. Anderson spent 8 days, 19 hours and 47 minutes
In 2003, he
made his second trip into space on Space Shuttle Columbia during
STS-107. He served as the STS-107 payload commander. More than 80
experiments were conducted during the flight.
Chief Kent Rominger said that Anderson was the right man for the
job of STS-107 payload commander. "He was a perfect choice
for the payload commander," he said. "Organized, thorough,
someone you could absolutely count on, a gifted leader."
his six crewmates perished on Feb. 1, 2003, as Columbia broke up
over Texas during re-entry, about 16 minutes before landing. STS-107
spent 15 days, 22 hours and 20 minutes in space, giving him a total
of 24 days, 18 hours and 7 minutes in space.
survived by his wife and children.
STS-107 was the second space flight for Mission Specialist
Michael Anderson. As payload commander, he managed more
than 80 science experiments that flew on Space Shuttle
Columbia. This feature video was produced before STS-107
launched on Jan. 16, 2003.
NASA, Anderson loved his family and cars. Even though he was a quiet
person, Rominger said there were things that Anderson loved to talk
about and that he had a great sense of humor.
the quiet type," Rominger said, "Unless you asked him
about his family or his Porsche. And perhaps because he was quiet,
we all loved to see him laugh. And when he laughed, we laughed with
him even harder, and he knew just when to drop a great punch line."
also known for his religious faith. Bush said this about Anderson,
"He also told his minister, 'If this thing doesn't come out
right, don't worry about me, I'm just going on higher.'"