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Rick Husband

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Title: Rick Husband  
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Subject: Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, STS-107, Congressional Space Medal of Honor, Kalpana Chawla, Space Shuttle Columbia
Collection: 1957 Births, 2003 Deaths, American Astronauts, American Christians, Aviators from Texas, Aviators Killed in Aviation Accidents or Incidents in the United States, Filmed Accidental Deaths, Flight Instructors, People from Amarillo, Texas, Recipients of the Congressional Space Medal of Honor, Recipients of the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Space Program Fatalities, Space Shuttle Columbia Disaster, Tau Beta Pi, Texas Tech University Alumni, U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School Alumni, United States Air Force Astronauts
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Rick Husband

Rick Douglas Husband
January 1999 portrait
NASA Astronaut
Nationality American
Status Deceased
Born (1957-07-12)July 12, 1957
Amarillo, Texas
Died February 1, 2003(2003-02-01) (aged 45)
Over Texas
Previous occupation
Test pilot
Rank Colonel, U.S. Air Force
Time in space
25d 17h 33m
Selection 1994 NASA Group
Missions STS-96, STS-107
Mission insignia
Rick Douglas Husband

(July 12, 1957 – February 1, 2003) was a United States Air Force Colonel, an astronaut, and the space shuttle commander of STS-107 (Columbia) who was killed when the craft disintegrated after reentry into the Earth's atmosphere. Husband is a recipient of the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.


  • Background 1
  • U.S. Air Force career 2
  • NASA career 3
  • Shuttle missions 4
  • Awards and decorations 5
  • Tributes 6
  • Quotes 7
  • See also 8
  • References 9


Husband was born in Amarillo, Texas. He attended Belmar Elementary, Crockett Junior High School, and he graduated from Amarillo High School in 1975. Husband earned a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from Texas Tech University in 1980, and a Master of Science degree also in mechanical engineering from Fresno State University in 1990. He was a member of Tau Beta Pi. His wife Evelyn details her Christian life with Rick and his struggles to fulfill his lifelong dream to become an astronaut in the 2004 book High Calling: The Courageous Life and Faith of Space Shuttle Columbia Commander Rick Husband by Evelyn Husband and co-written by Donna VanLiere. The Husbands have two children, a daughter Laura and a son Matthew. Evelyn married Bill Thompson in January 2008 and was the keynote speaker for the memorial ceremony at the Astronaut Memorial "Space Mirror" at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, five years after the Space Shuttle Columbia tragedy.[1]

U.S. Air Force career

After graduating from Texas Tech University, Husband was commissioned as a George AFB, California in December 1985.

In December 1987, Husband was assigned to Edwards Air Force Base in California, where he attended the USAF Test Pilot School. Upon completion of test pilot school, Husband served as a test pilot flying the F-4 and all five models of the F-15 Eagle. In the F-15 Combined Test Force, Husband was the program manager for the Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-229 increased performance engine, and also served as the F-15 Aerial Demonstration Pilot.

In June 1992, Husband was assigned to the Aircraft and Armament Evaluation Establishment at Boscombe Down, England, as an exchange test pilot with the Royal Air Force. At Boscombe Down, Husband was the Tornado GR1 and GR4 Project Pilot and served as a test pilot in the Hawk, Hunter, Buccaneer, Jet Provost, Tucano, and Harvard. He logged over 3800 hours of flight time in more than 40 different types of aircraft.

NASA career

Husband was selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in December 1994. He reported to the Johnson Space Center in March 1995 to begin a year of training and evaluation. Upon completion of training, Husband was named the Astronaut Office representative for Advanced Projects at Johnson Space Center, working on Space Shuttle Upgrades, the Crew Return Vehicle (CRV) and studies to return to the Moon and travel to Mars. He eventually served as Chief of Safety for the Astronaut Office. He flew as pilot on STS-96 in 1999, and logged 235 hours and 13 minutes in space. Husband was later assigned to command the crew of STS-107 which was launched early in 2003.

Shuttle missions

  • STS-96 (May 27 to June 6, 1999) aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery was a 10-day mission during which the crew performed the first docking with the International Space Station and delivered four tons of logistics and supplies in preparation for the arrival of the first crew to live on the station early next year. The mission was accomplished in 153 Earth orbits, traveling 4 million miles in 9 days, 19 hours and 13 minutes.
  • STS-107 (January 16 to February 1, 2003) aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia was a 16-day mission during which the crew performed over 80 experiments testing applications of microgravity to gain insight into the environment of space and improve life on Earth as well as enable future space exploration. The mission ended in tragedy on the morning of February 1 when the shuttle disintegrated upon reentry killing all crew members (see Space Shuttle Columbia disaster).

Awards and decorations

Defense Distinguished Service Medal (posthumous)
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters
Aerial Achievement Medal
Air Force Commendation Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Congressional Space Medal of Honor (posthumous)
NASA Space Flight Medal (posthumous)
NASA Distinguished Service Medal (posthumous)

Two NASA Group Achievement Awards[2][3]



Husband describes how he became a shuttle commander having flown in only one other space flight:

  • "I think a lot of it has to do with being in the right place at the right time."

Rick Husband before his first flight:

  • “It [space] was just so incredibly adventurous and exciting to me. I just thought there was no doubt in my mind that is what I want to do when I grow up.”

Husband was also well known for his faith, and in the last-request forms that astronauts fill out before every flight, he left his pastor a personal note:

  • “Tell them about Jesus; he’s real to me.”

See also


  1. ^ Florida Today, February 1, 2008
  2. ^ Husband bio
  3. ^ Rick Husband Astronaut bio
  4. ^
  • NASA - Astronaut bio: R. D. Husband
  • Rick Husband STS-107 Crew Memorial
  • Spacefacts biography of Rick Husband
  • Florida Today - Florida Tech dedicates dorms to Columbia 7 - October 29, 2003
  • High Calling: The Courageous Life and Faith of Space Shuttle Columbia Commander Rick Husband by Evelyn Husband and Donna VanLiere (Jan 11, 2004)
  • Photos of grave
  • Husband-Boeing Engineering Honors Program at California State University
  • Inaugural Husband-Boeing Engineering Honors Scholars
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