These scripts enable navigation. It requires javascript be enabled in your browser. Human Space Flight WebHuman Space Flight WebHuman Space Flight WebHuman Space Flight WebHuman Space Flight WebHuman Space Flight WebHuman Space Flight WebHuman Space Flight WebHuman Space Flight Web
Skip navigation to content.
Human Space Flight WebReturn to Human Space Flight home page
Human Space Flight Web
Human Space Flight Web

Life Facts
Born:April 16, 1956
Arlington, Va.
Died:Feb. 1, 2003
during re-entry of Space Shuttle Columbia
Space Agency:NASA
Astronaut Class:1996
Missions: STS-107
Time in Space:15 days,
22 hours,
20 minutes
Education:1978, B.S., College of William and Mary.
1982, M.D., Eastern Virginia Medical School.
Military: U.S. Navy, Captain
IMAGE: Mission Specialist David Brown
Visit the Gallery to see photos of Mission Specialist David Brown and the STS-107 crew.
*STS-107 Tribute
Media Player - 28K / 56K
Real Video - 28K / 56K
*Brown's Preflight Profile
Media Player - 28K / 56K
Real Video - 28K / 56K
*Flight Day 4
*Flight Day 15
Wake-up Calls
*Flight Day 2 - "EMA EMA" (5.2 MB) .wav file | Net Show | RealAudio
* Flight Day 4 - "Cultural Exchange" (4.9 MB) .wav file | Net Show | RealAudio
*Flight Day 6 - "Texan 60" (3.6 MB) .wav file | Net Show | RealAudio
* Flight Day 12 - "When Day is Done" by Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli. (4.4 MB) .wav file | Net Show | RealAudio
* Flight Day 14 - "I Get Around" by The Beach Boys. (5 MB) .wav file | Net Show | RealAudio
* Flight Day 16 - "Silver Inches" by Enya. (6.2 MB) .wav file | Net Show | RealAudio
Related Links
*A Letter to America from the Columbia Crew Families
*Brown's Biography
*Brown's Preflight Interview
*Brown's STS-107 Menus
*STS-107 Science
*STS-107 Wake-up Calls
* STS-107 Ask the Crew Answers
Tree-Planting Ceremony
Tree-planting ceremony
Doug Brown, brother of Columbia Astronaut David Brown, participates in a tree-planting ceremony at Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas. Visit the Memorial Gallery for more images.
David BrownSTS-107 Crew Memorial
Rick HusbandWilliam McCoolDavid BrownKalpana ChawlaMichael AndersonLaurel ClarkIlan Ramon

David Brown

U.S. Navy Capt. David Brown was born April 16, 1956, in Arlington, Va. While growing up he didn't have a specific dream of becoming an astronaut. Although he thought that being an astronaut would be a good job, he didn't think it was possible.

"I was a little bit late for Mercury, but I remember Gemini and Apollo quite well in the Sixties, and then Skylab and early shuttle," he said in a preflight interview. "But I absolutely couldn't identify with the people who were astronauts. I thought they were movie stars. And I just thought I was kind of a normal kid. And so I couldn't see a path how a normal kid could ever get to be one of these people that I just couldn't identify with. And so, while I would've said, 'Hey, this is like the coolest thing you could possibly do,' it really wasn't something that I ever thought that I would end up doing."

Dave Brown, STS-107 Interview

However, he did have an interest in science and flying that would eventually lead him on a path to becoming an astronaut. It was later in life that his idea about becoming an astronaut would change.

"And, it was really kind of much later in life after I'd been in medical school, I'd gone on to become a Navy pilot, that I really thought, 'Well, maybe I would have some skills and background that NASA might be interested in,'" Brown said. "And then I went ahead and applied. So, I think growing up I really underestimated myself. And I was really a bit wrong about things that I could do, and I'm glad I figured out kind of later in life that if I wanted to pursue that, that I could."

Brown graduated from Arlington's Yorktown High School in 1974 and then went to college at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va. While at William and Mary, Brown was a member of the Tribe's varsity gymnastics team. He said his gymnastics coach had an influence that helped him later in life.

David Brown feature video

STS-107 was the first space flight for Mission Specialist David Brown, who joined the astronaut corps in 1996. The Navy captain was a flight surgeon and naval aviator. This feature video was produced before STS-107 launched on Jan. 16, 2003.

Video Format
#Netshow Video - 28K / 56K
#RealVideo - 28K / 56K

"He was a fellow that really took, actually did -- and still does -- take a very long-term view of what athletics and education are all about. And, he's just been investing in people in that program ever since," Brown said. "When I look back now, and I think I understand a little more what he was doing now than at the time, he invests in people and gives a lot of his time and attention. He certainly did to me. I learned a lot about what it's to be, what it's like to be on a team. What you need to know to be on a team. About setting personal goals. And about [having the] daily discipline to get to those goals."

Brown also used his athletic talents during college to work as an acrobat, 7-foot unicyclist and stilt walker for Circus Kingdom.

After graduating from William and Mary with a bachelor's degree in biology, he went to Eastern Virginia Medical School, where he earned a doctorate in medicine in 1982. He performed his internship in South Carolina and went to the U.S. Navy flight surgeon school in 1984.

In 1988, Brown became the only flight surgeon to be selected for pilot training in a 10-year period. He completed his training and became a naval aviator in 1990, ranking first in his class. He logged 1,700 hours of flight time in high-performance military aircraft during his stint with the Navy. He said that being a pilot and doctor was beneficial for him.

"As a physician and as a pilot, I think it lets me be a pretty good translator, having one foot in the medical world and one foot in the flying world," he said. "Sometimes when the medical guys come in and speak medical stuff to the pilots, the pilots really don't know what they're saying. And vice versa."

In 1996, his talents took him to NASA when he was selected as an astronaut candidate. Brown became qualified as a pilot for NASA's T-38 aircraft.

In a preflight interview, Brown said that as an astronaut, he hoped to help in the advancement of science. "Whatever I can do to contribute to science, to improve science, I think is really great," he said.

His first space flight was on Space Shuttle Columbia as a mission specialist during STS-107, an extended-duration mission devoted to scientific research. The STS-107 crew conducted more than 80 experiments during its stay in space.

Brown and his six crewmates perished over Texas on Feb. 1 as Columbia was re-entering Earth's atmosphere. Columbia was about 16 minutes from landing in Florida. Brown spent 15 days, 22 hours and 20 minutes in space.

Astronaut Office Chief Kent Rominger said that Brown was known as "Doc" to friends and that he loved to take pictures and had a great sense of humor.

"Doc also loved cameras and always had a camera with him," Rominger said, "riding out to the pad I've never seen anybody as intense at making sure he filmed every bit of what was going on with his crew as Doc. Usually when he was filming folks, he would tell them, 'Just act like a little brown squirrel.'

"He also had a keen sense of humor and after one demanding simulator run, turned to [Flight Engineer Kalpana Chawla] and asked, 'May I borrow your brain?' This comment illustrates his humility, because it was well known in the Astronaut Office that he was extremely capable."

President George W. Bush summed up Brown's achievements and life during a memorial service at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, on Feb. 4, 2003.

"David Brown was first drawn to the stars as a little boy with a telescope in his backyard," Bush said. "He admired astronauts, but as he said, 'I thought they were movie stars. I thought I was kind of a normal kid.' David grew up to be a physician, an aviator who could land on the deck of a carrier in the middle of the night, and a shuttle astronaut.

"His brother asked him several weeks ago what would happen if something went wrong on their mission," Bush continued. "David replied, 'This program will go on.'"

Curator: Kim Dismukes | Responsible NASA Official: John Ira Petty | Updated: 12/03/2004
Web Accessibility and Policy Notices