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Challenger Biographies: Dick Scobee

By Marty McDowell/NASA

The Challenger commander was Francis R. (Dick) Scobee, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Francis W. Scobee. He was born on May 19, 1939, in Cle Elum, Washington, and graduated from the public high school in Auburn, Washington, in 1957. He then enlisted in the U.S. Air Force, training as a reciprocating engine mechanic but longing to fly. He took night courses and in 1965 completed a B.S. degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Arizona. This made it possible for Scobee to receive an officer's commission and enter the Air Force pilot training program. He received his pilot's wings in 1966 and began a series of flying assignments with the Air Force, including a combat tour in Vietnam. Scobee also married June Kent of San Antonio, Texas, and they had two children, Kathie R. and Richard W., in the early 1960s. He attended the USAF Aerospace Research Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, California, in 1972 and thereafter was involved in several test programs. As an Air Force test pilot Scobee flew more than 45 types of aircraft, logging more than 6,500 hours of flight time.

In 1978 Scobee entered NASA's astronaut corps and was the pilot of STS-41-C, the fifth orbital flight of the Challenger spacecraft, launching from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on April 6, 1984. During this seven-day mission the crew successfully retrieved and repaired the ailing Solar Maximum Satellite and returned it to orbit. This was an enormously important mission, because it demonstrated the capability that NASA had long said existed with the Space Shuttle to repair satellites in orbit.

Source: NASA.

 

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Your Memories Shared!

" On this sad day I was at my job as Medical Records Clerk for St. Luke's Family Home Care, located on S. Pacific in Spokane, WA. Of course shock was not the expected emotion someone turned on the television so we might peek at the launch as we went about our work; we were not unlike the rest of the country--very excited.

The wife of one of my patients, from before I left home care for medical records, called in grief to speak with me regarding what she and her husband had just witnessed of the explosion of Challenger.

This couple became friends of my family and are now souls with those of the crew of the Challenger. The wife, I feel, never fully got over that bleak day of January 28, 1986.

It is now February 1, 2003. Once again we have lost seven souls, seventeen years later. I turned on the television at my husband Robert's and my home in Metaline Falls at 11:00am to learn, suddenly, of the loss of the Columbia, on re-entry.

As with the Challenger another Washington State hero is mourned. Francis (Dick) Scobee, spacecraft commander of the Challenger was from Western Washington, while payload commander, Michael Anderson on Columbia had made his home in the Cheney/Spokane area, about 150 miles from Metaline Falls,WA."

--Nomie



Space References (Books):
Dickinson, Terence. Nightwatch: A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe. Firefly Books, 1998.
Greene, Brian. Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory. Vintage, 2000.
Hawking, Stephen. Illustrated Brief History of Time, Updated and Expanded Edition. Bantam, 1996.
Hawking, Stephen. Theory of Everything: The Origin and Fate of the Universe. New Millenium, 2002.
Hawking, Stephen. The Universe in a Nutshell. Bantam, 2001.
Kaku, Michio. Hyperspace: A Scientific Odyssey Through Parallel Universes, Time Warps and the Tenth Dimension.
Kranz, Gene. Failure Is Not an Option: Mission Control from Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond. Berkley Pub Group, 2001.
Sagan, Carl; Druyan, Ann. Comet, Revised Edition. Ballantine, 1997
Sagan, Carl. Cosmos, Reissue Edition. Ballantine, 1993
Sagan, Carl. Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space. Ballantine, 1997

Space References (Videos):
Cosmos. PBS, 2000.
Stephen Hawking's Universe. PBS, 1997.
Hyperspace. BBC, 2002.
Life Beyond Earth PBS, 1999.
The Planets
. BBC, 1999.
Understanding The Universe. A&E, 1996.

 

Francis R. Scobee

Courtesy of NASA


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