David M. Brown Papers

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This object is not on display at the National Air and Space Museum. It is either on loan or in storage.

David M. Brown was a U.S. Navy officer, flight surgeon, naval aviator, and Space Shuttle astronaut. Born in Arlington, Virginia, on April 16, 1956, Brown earned a B.S. in biology from the College of William and Mary in 1978 and a doctorate in medicine from Eastern Virginia Medical School in 1982. During his years in college, he performed in the Circus Kingdom as an unicyclist, stilt walker, and acrobat. Upon completing an internship at the Medical University of South Carolina, Brown joined the Navy and finished his flight surgeon training in 1984. After a stint as director of medical services at the Navy Branch Hospital in Adak, Alaska, he was then assigned to Carrier Airwing Fifteen which deployed aboard the USS Carl Vinson in the western section of the Pacific Ocean. In 1988, Brown was selected for pilot training, the only flight surgeon chosen for this program in over ten years. Two years later, he was designated a naval aviator and ranked first in his class. Subsequently, Brown was sent for training and carrier qualification in the Grumman A-6E Intruder. In 1991, he was attached to the Naval Strike Warfare Center in Fallon, Nevada, where he served as a Strike Leader Attack Training Syllabus Instructor and a Contingency Cell Planning Officer. The following year, he was sent to serve aboard the USS Independence, flying the A-6E with squadron VA-115. In 1995, he reported to the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School as their flight surgeon. By this time, Brown was qualified in a variety of military aircraft, including the McDonnell Douglas F-18 Hornet and the Northrop T-38 Talon. All told, Brown accumulated over 2,700 hours with 1,700 in high performance military aircraft. For a long time, Brown harbored a strong desire to become an astronaut. During the mid 1990s, he applied for admission into the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) astronaut corps. In April 1996, Brown was selected as an astronaut candidate by the space agency and reported to the Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, Texas, later that year. By 1998, he completed his training and evaluation, and was qualified for flight assignment as a mission specialist. Initially, Brown was given the task of supporting payload development for the International Space Station (ISS), followed by an assignment on the astronaut support team responsible for Space Shuttle cockpit setup, crew strap-in, and landing recovery. Eventually, he was assigned a flight aboard Space Shuttle Columbia for the STS-107 mission. Columbia was launched from the Kennedy Space center (KSC) on January 16, 2003. This 16-day flight was dedicated to scientific research while in Earth orbit. On February 1, after the successful in-space mission and only minutes from its scheduled landing at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Cape Canaveral, Florida, the orbiter suffered structural failure upon reentry into the atmosphere and disintegrated over Texas and Louisiana. Brown, as well as the other six members of the STS-107 crew, was killed in the accident. Brown logged 15 days, 22 hours and 20 minutes of space flight experience. The following chronology covers key events in Brown's life, as well as in the realm of space exploration history. Events involving Brown are shown in normal type while those of the latter are shown in bold type. 1956 April 16 -- Brown born in Arlington, Virginia 1957 October 4 -- Russia's successful launch of first artificial satellite,Sputnik 1 1958 January 31 -- Successful launch of first U.S. artificial satellite,Explorer 1 1961 April 12 -- Russia's successful launch of first human into space, Yuri Gagarin aboardVostok 1 1961 May 5 -- Successful launch of first U.S. astronaut into space, Alan Shepard aboard Mercury-Redstone 3 (Freedom 7) 1969 July 16-24 -- Flight ofApollo 11succeeds in landing U.S. astronauts on the moon 1972 -- The Nixon administration approves the Space Shuttle as a national program 1974 -- Brown graduates from Yorktown High School, Yorktown, Virginia 1977 August-October -- Series of five Approach and Landing Tests (within the atmosphere) of Space ShuttleEnterprise 1978 -- Brown graduates from William and Mary College with a B.S. in biology 1981 April 12 -- First launch into earth orbit for the Space Shuttle program byColumbia(STS-1) 1982 -- Brown graduates from Eastern Virginia Medical School with a doctorate in Medicine (M.D.) 1984 -- Brown completes his U.S. Navy flight surgeon training 1986 January 28 -- Space ShuttleChallenger(STS-51-L) explodes shortly after launch, killing all on board 1988 -- Brown is selected by the U.S. Navy for pilot training 1988 September 29 -- Return to flight of the Space Shuttle program byDiscovery(STS-26) 1990 -- Brown is designated as a naval aviator and ranks first in his class 1990 April 24 -- Launch of Space ShuttleDiscovery(STS-31) with Hubble Space Telescope (HST) as payload 1991 -- Brown is attached to the Naval Strike Warfare Center in Fallon, Nevada 1992 -- Brown serves aboard aircraft carrier USS Independence and pilots the Grumman A-6E Intruder aircraft with VA-115 1995 -- Brown reports to U.S. Naval Test Pilot School as the flight surgeon 1996 April -- Brown is selected by NASA as an astronaut candidate (ASCAN) 1998 -- Brown successfully completes his astronaut training and evaluation 1998 October 29 -- Launch of Space ShuttleDiscovery(STS-95) with astronaut John Glenn returning to space after his first orbital flight aboardFriendship 7in 1962 2003 January 16 -- Launch of Brown and the crew of Space Shuttle Columbia (STS-107) 2003 February 1 -- STS-107 disintegrates over Texas and Louisiana shortly before scheduled landing at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Florida, with the loss of Brown and the crew