David Brown was a United States Naval Captain and a NASA astronaut. He was born David McDowell Brown on April 16, 1956. He graduated from Yorktown High School, Arlington, Virginia in 1974 and went on to receive a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from the College of William and Mary in 1978. He also earned a doctorate in medicine from Eastern Virginia Medical School in 1982.
Brown joined the United States Navy after his internship at the Medical University of South Carolina. After he completed flight surgeon training in 1984, he reported to the Navy Branch Hospital in Adak, Alaska as Director of Medical Services. He was then assigned to Carrier Airwing Fifteen and was deployed aboard the USS Carl Vinson. In 1990, he was designated a naval aviator in Beeville, Texas and was then sent for training and carrier qualification in the A-6E Intruder. A year later he went to Fallon, Nevada where he served as a Strike Leader Attack Training Syllabus Instructor and a Contingency Cell Planning Officer.
Brown was selected by NASA in April 1996, and he reported to the Johnson Space Center four months later. After two years of training and evaluation, he became a mission specialist and was assigned to support payload development for the International Space Station. In 2003, Brown flew on his first mission, STS-107, aboard shuttle Columbia. The flight was a dedicated science and research mission and had the crew working 24 hour alternating shifts to complete roughly 80 experiments. On February 1, 2003, Columbia was 15 minutes from landing when it disintegrated. Brown and the crew died from the accident.
Brown earned many awards throughout his career, including Naval Aviator, Naval Astronaut, Naval Flight Surgeon, Meritorious Service Medal, and Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal. He also earned awards after his death, including Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Congressional Space Medal of Honor, NASA Distinguished Service Medal, and NASA Space Flight Medal. Many people have tributes for Brown, including Asteroid 51825 Davidbrown and the David M. Brown Aerospace Medicine Academic Center both being named after him.