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Life Facts
Born:March 10, 1961
Ames, Iowa
Died:Feb. 1, 2003
during re-entry of Space Shuttle Columbia
Space Agency:NASA
Astronaut Class:1996
Time in Space:15 days,
22 hours,
20 minutes
Education:1983, B.S., University of Wisconsin-Madison.
1987, M.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison
Military:U.S. Navy, Captain
Laurel Clark
Visit the Gallery to see photos of Mission Specialist Laurel Clark and the STS-107 crew.
*STS-107 Tribute
Media Player - 28K / 56K
Real Video - 28K / 56K
*Flight Day 3
*Flight Day 4
*Flight Day 15
Wake-up Calls
*Flight Day 5 - "Amazing Grace" by The Black Watch and the band of the 51st Highland Brigade.
(6.2 MB) .wav file
| Net Show | RealAudio
* Flight Day 13 - "Running to the Light" by Runrig.
(6.6 MB) .wav file
| Net Show | RealAudio
*Flight Day 17 - "Scotland the Brave" by The Black Watch and the band of the 51st Highland Brigade.
(5.7 MB) .wav file | Net Show | RealAudio
Related Links
*A Letter to America from the Columbia Crew Families
*Clark's Biography
*Clark's Preflight Interview
*Clark's STS-107 Menus
*STS-107 Science
*STS-107 Wake-up Calls
* STS-107 Ask the Crew Answers
*Navy Recognizes Columbia Astronaut
Tree-Planting Ceremony
Tree-planting ceremony
Jonathan Clark, husband of Columbia Astronaut Laurel Clark, participates in a tree-planting ceremony at Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas. Visit the Memorial Gallery for more images.
STS-107 Crew Memorial
Rick HusbandWilliam McCoolDavid BrownKalpana ChawlaMichael AndersonLaurel ClarkIlan Ramon

Laurel Clark

U.S. Navy Captain Laurel Salton Clark's path to becoming an astronaut evolved over time. Clark said that while growing up she had an interest in the environment and animals.

"I was interested in the Moon landings just about the same as everyone else of my generation," she said. "But, I never really thought about being an astronaut or working in space myself. I was very interested in environment and ecosystems and animals."
She said her parents were a huge influence on her life when she was a child. "They always expected the most out of all of us," she said, "and expected us to do our very best."

Laurel Clark, STS-107 Interview

Clark graduated from William Horlick High School in Racine, Wis., in 1979. The following eight years of her life were spent at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She earned a bachelor's degree in science in zoology in 1983 and doctorate in medicine in 1987.

"… the eight years that I spent at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I have incredibly fond memories of," Clark said. "I did my undergraduate work there in zoology. And then followed it up with the four years in medical school. And it's a beautiful place, with four seasons up in Wisconsin, and really wonderful people."

Her path to becoming an astronaut included being a member of the U.S. Navy. During her time in the Navy, Clark became an undersea medical officer. While stationed in Scotland, she dove with divers and performed numerous medical evacuations from U.S. submarines. Later, she became a flight surgeon.

"I joined the Navy and was exposed to a lot of different operational environments, working on submarines and working in tight quarters on ships, and learning about radiation medicine," Clark said. "And it was really just sort of a natural progression when I learned about NASA and what astronauts do, and the type of things that they are expected to do, that I thought about the things I had done so far and became more interested in that as a career."

Laurel Clark feature video

Mission Specialist Laurel Clark made her first space flight on STS-107. She was a Naval pilot and flight surgeon. This feature video was produced before STS-107 launched on Jan. 16, 2003.

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

NASA selected Clark as an astronaut candidate in 1996. She successfully completed her training and evaluation. Prior to receiving her first flight assignment, she worked in the Astronaut Office Payloads/Habitability Branch.

Clark made her first space flight on Space Shuttle Columbia during STS-107 as a mission specialist. The extended-duration mission was dedicated to scientific research. The STS-107 crew successfully conducted more than 80 experiments. Prior to the start of the mission, she said that the crew would enjoy its view of Earth.

"We're incredibly lucky to be able to be working where we are up above the Earth and being able to see our planet from that vantage point," she said.

On Feb. 1, Clark and the STS-107 crew perished during re-entry as Columbia broke up over Texas en route to a landing in Florida. She amassed 15 days, 22 hours and 20 minutes in space. Astronaut Office Chief Kent Rominger said that Clark had an outgoing personality and loved her work. "Laurel -- the dedicated professional with a wide variety of talents," he said. "She was also the queen of STS-107 paraphernalia. She had a different pastel crew shirt for each day of the week complemented with crew patches and matching crew earrings. She had a perpetual smile, and would never send an e-mail or phone if she could find you in person."

She is survived by her husband and son. She said that her most enjoyable experience outside of her astronaut career was being a mother. "…motherhood's been incredible," she said, "and I tell my son all the time that my most important job is being his mother."
Rominger also said that even though she was devoted to her work, Clark's family was a priority in her life. "But no matter how hectic the day, she inspired us with her ability to always reserve time and energy for her family," he said.

During a memorial service at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, on Feb. 4, 2003, President George W. Bush emphasized Clark's love for her family and her work.

"Laurel Salton Clark was a physician and a flight surgeon who loved adventure, loved her work, loved her husband and her son," he said. "A friend who heard Laurel speaking to Mission Control said there was a smile in her voice. Laurel conducted some of the experiments as Columbia orbited the Earth and described seeing new life emerged from a tiny cocoon. 'Life,' she said, 'continues in a lot of places and life is a magical thing.'"

Curator: Kim Dismukes | Responsible NASA Official: John Ira Petty | Updated: 12/03/2004
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