Dick Scobee

Dick Scobee was an American astronaut. He was born Francis Richard “Dick” Scobee on May 19, 1939 in Cle Elum, Washington. He was raised in Auburn, Washington and attended Washington Elementary, Cascade Middle School, and Auburn Senior High School, where he earned his high school diploma in 1957. That same year, he enlisted in the United States Air Force and initially served as an engine mechanic at Kelly Air Force Base in Texas. During his time off, he studied at San Antonio College, and eventually at the University of Arizona, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in aerospace engineering in 1965. Also that year, Scobee was awarded an officer’s commission. In 1966 he earned his pilot wings and subsequently served as a combat aviator in the Vietnam War. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal, and other decorations. Upon returning from his tour of duty, Scobee reported to Edwards Air Force Base for Aerospace Research Pilot School. After his graduation in 1972, he became an Air Force test pilot and flew various aircrafts, such as the Boeing 747, the experimental X-24B lifting body, the F-111 Aardvark, and the C-5 Galaxy.

In January 1978, Scobee was selected for NASA’s astronaut program, and he completed the required training in August 1979. His initial assignment was as an instructor pilot for the 747 carrier aircraft. Scobee’s first flight to space was aboard Space Shuttle Challenger, piloting STS-41C which was NASA’s 11th Space Shuttle mission. On April 6, 1984 the crew was launched into space as the first direct ascent trajectory for a shuttle mission. The crew repaired the Solar Max satellite, sent out the Long Duration Exposure Facility, and filmed highlights of the trip using an IMAX movie camera. After 108 orbits of the Earth, the crew returned on April 13, 1984. Later, Scobee was assigned to command the STS-51-L mission, which was intended to study Halley’s comet. However, on January 28, 1986 during the launch of the mission aboard Space Shuttle Challenger, an O-ring seal failed and destroyed the shuttle seconds after takeoff.

Scobee was married to Virginia June Kent and had two children. He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery and has received many posthumous honors, such as Dick Scobee Elementary in his honor, Dick Scobee Field Airport, Dick Scobee Road in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and an induction into the Astronaut Hall of Fame with a Congressional Space Medal of Honor.

Image Caption: Francis Richard “Dick“ Scobee. Credit: NASA/Wikipedia