U.S. Air Force
Col. Rick Husband's childhood dream was to become an astronaut.
He said that the early human space flight programs -- Mercury, Gemini
and Apollo -- made an impression on him. "…watching the Moon landings
and everything," he said, "it was just so incredibly adventurous
and exciting to me that I just thought, 'There is no doubt in my
mind that that's what I want to do when I grow up.'"
Texas, native was born in 1957. Growing up in West Texas he developed
an interest in flying. "I'd be out in my backyard playing," he said
in a preflight crew interview. "And, any time I heard any kind of
an airplane, you know, it's like, stop what you're doing and take
a look and see, 'Where's that airplane? What kind is it? Where is
it going? How high is it? How fast is it going?'"
from Amarillo High School in 1975, Husband went to Texas Tech University
where he received a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering
in 1980. He was a member of the school's Air Force ROTC, which culminated
with a commission as a second lieutenant in the Air Force.
Apollo 1 and Challenger|
Jan. 28, 2003, STS-107 Commander Rick Husband and his
crew took a moment to remember the crews of Apollo 1 and
Space Shuttle Challenger. The Apollo 1 crew died in a
fire on the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center, Fla.,
on Jan. 27, 1967. The crew of STS-51L was lost on Jan.
28, 1986, when Space Shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds
3.3 Mb .wav file
While at Texas
Tech, he sent a letter to NASA asking about requirements to become
an astronaut. "I got a package back, and it told about the pilots
and the mission specialists and the requirements that were necessary,"
he said. "And so, that kind of laid the pathway for what I needed
to do if I wanted to be a pilot-astronaut."
tenure in the Air Force, Husband logged more than 3,800 hours of
flight time in more than 40 different types of aircraft and served
as a flight instructor and a test pilot. He also earned a master's
degree in mechanical engineering in 1990 from California State University,
four times and being interviewed twice, NASA selected Husband as
an astronaut candidate in December 1994. He reported to Johnson
Space Center in Houston, Texas, in March 1995.
"And so, it
was the achievement of a lifelong dream and a goal," he said. "And,
it's very humbling, I'd say, and exciting at the same time to be
able to actually go and do the kind of thing that I'd wanted to
do and the thing that I had looked forward to doing for such a long
His first space
flight occurred in May and June 1999 when he served as pilot for
the 10-day STS-96 mission. That was the first time that a space
shuttle docked with the International Space Station.
commander of his second trip to space, STS-107 -- a mission devoted
to research. The seven-member STS-107 crew conducted more than 80
experiments during its 16 days in space.
STS-107 was the second trip to space for Commander Rick
Husband, who had previously piloted the first shuttle
mission to dock with the International Space Station.
This feature video was produced before STS-107 launched
on Jan. 16, 2003.
the STS-107 crew died on Feb. 1, 2003, over north central Texas
during Space Shuttle Columbia's re-entry. Columbia was only about
16 minutes away from landing in Florida.
respected by his peers in the astronaut corps. Astronaut Office
Chief Kent Rominger was the commander of Husband's first mission.
During a memorial ceremony at Johnson Space Center on Feb. 4, 2003,
he said that Husband was a great leader.
"Rick was a
terrific human being and a great leader," Rominger said. "... He
molded seven individuals from different parts of the world with
diverse backgrounds, various religious beliefs, into an incredibly
tight-knit and productive family."
In his life
outside of NASA, Husband was known for his love for his family and
his religious faith. He leaves behind his wife and two children.
Prior to STS-107 he was asked in an interview what was the most
memorable experience outside of his astronaut career.
I think apart from NASA," Husband said, "the most enjoyable
part of my life has been my time with my family."
One of Husband's
hobbies was singing. He sang most of his life: beginning as member
in the church choir as a kid, to singing in the Texas Tech choir
and as a member of the choir in his church in the Houston area.
W. Bush best summed up Husband's life during the memorial service.
was a boy of four when he first thought of being an astronaut,"
Bush said. "As a man and having become an astronaut, he found it
was even more important to love his family and serve his Lord."