- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 1, 2003

WASHINGTON, Feb. 1 (UPI) — Lt. Col. Michael P. Anderson, U.S. Air Force, a mission specialist, previously had logged over 211 hours in space.

"When you really sit down and you study the space shuttle and get to know its systems, you realize that this is a very complex vehicle and even though we've gone to great pains to make it as safe as we can, there's always the potential for something going wrong," Anderson said in an interview before the shuttle Columbia's Jan. 16 launch. "So we try not to think about those things. We train and try to prepare for the things that may go wrong to do the best we can — but there's always that unknown."

Selected by NASA in December 1994, Anderson initially was assigned technical duties in the Flight Support Branch of the Astronaut Office. He flew on the crew of STS-89 in 1998, which transferred more than 9,000 pounds of scientific equipment, logistical hardware and water from shuttle Endeavour to the Russian space station, Mir.

"Entries are a little bit better than launch. It's a little quieter. It's not quite as violent. And you can enjoy it a little bit," he said. "On this flight entry, I'm just going to sit down in my seat and hopefully, reflect on the 16 days on orbit that we've had."

Upon graduation from the University of Washington in 1981 with a bachelor's degree in science, he was assigned to the 2nd Airborne Command and Control Squadron as an EC-135 pilot. He served as a flight instructor and tactics officer and had logged over 3,000 hours in various aircraft.

Anderson earned a master's degree in physics from Creighton University, in Omaha, Neb., in 1990.

Born in Plattsburgh, N.Y. Anderson considered Spokane, Wash., to be his hometown. He was 43.

(Editors: UPI photo WAX2003020110 available)

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