- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 2, 2003

The seven-member crew of Space Shuttle Columbia's last flight was diverse, including an Israeli, a black man and two women one of whom came to this country from India.
They died yesterday when Columbia disintegrated less than 20 minutes before it was scheduled to land.
Four of the seven were on their first spaceflights. Six were married and five had children.
"They dedicated their lives to this mission … the loss of this valiant crew is something we will never get over," NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe said in a televised statement early yesterday afternoon at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Columbia's intended landing site.
Shuttle commander Rick D. Husband, 45, an Air Force colonel from Amarillo, Texas, was on his second spaceflight.
CNN yesterday broadcast some remarks Col. Husband made a few days ago as a tribute to the astronauts who died in the 1986 explosion of the space shuttle Challenger and victims of other space program disasters. He said they made the "ultimate sacrifice."
A former test pilot, Col. Husband was selected as an astronaut in 1994 on his fourth attempt. In an interview before Columbia's launch, he said becoming an astronaut has been "pretty much a lifelong dream and just a thrill to actually live it out."
Col. Husband was married and the father of two children. On this ill-fated flight, he took memorabilia into orbit for Boys Ranch, a Christian home for at-risk boys located outside of Amarillo.
Pilot William C. McCool, 41, was a Navy commander from Lubbock, Texas, who was married and the father of three sons. He graduated second in his class at the Naval Academy in 1983 and earned a master's in computer science at the University of Maryland in 1985. In 1992, he received a master of science in aeronautical engineering at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School.
Cmdr. McCool didn't apply to be an astronaut until he was in his 30s. He was accepted in 1996, and this was his first spaceflight.
Payload commander Michael P. Anderson, 43, held the rank of U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel. Before NASA chose him as an astronaut in 1994, he had earned a bachelor's of science in physics and astronomy at the University of Washington and a master's of science in physics at Creighton University.
The only black member on the Columbia's last mission, Col. Anderson was in charge of the more than 90 science experiments aboard the shuttle. Married with two children, he traveled to Russia's Mir space station in 1998. He considered Spokane, Wash., to be his home
Ilan Ramon, 48, the mission's payload specialist, was a colonel in the Israeli air force. He served as a fighter pilot in the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s and was chosen as Israel's first astronaut in 1997. A year later, he moved to Houston to train for shuttle flights.
He was the first Israeli in space. His mother survived the Nazi's Auschwitz death camp in Poland, and both his father and grandfather fought for Israeli statehood. Col. Ramon fought in the Yom Kippur War in 1973 and in the Lebanon war in 1982. His wife and four children live in Tel Aviv.
Another school crew member, Kalpana Chawla, 41, was born in Karnal, India.
She immigrated from India to the United States in the 1980s and became an astronaut in 1994. Married, she was an avid pilot who enjoyed flying acrobatics.
Laurel B. Clark, 41, of Racine, Wis., was the other woman on the mission. A medical doctor, she served on Navy submarines and as a flight surgeon before becoming an astronaut in 1996.
Married with an 8-year-old son, Cmdr. Clark was on her first spaceflight as a Columbia crew member. She took a hat into space to try to keep her hair under control in microgravity.
David M. Brown, 46, of Arlington, was a Navy captain, pilot and physician. A bachelor, Capt. Brown became an astronaut in 1996. The Columbia mission was his first flight into space.

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