Dick Scobee : biography
Francis Richard "Dick" Scobee (May 19, 1939 – January 28, 1986) was an American astronaut. He was killed commanding the Space Shuttle Challenger, which suffered catastrophic booster failure during launch of the STS-51-L mission.
Born in Cle Elum, Washington to Francis William Scobee and Edlynn (Miller) Scobee, Scobee attended Auburn Senior High School, Cascade Middle School, and Washington Elementary in Auburn, Washington. He graduated in 1957.
Scobee was assigned commander for the ill-fated STS-51-L mission. The mission, designed to deploy a satellite to study the approaching Halley’s Comet and to inaugurate the Teacher in Space Project, was delayed numerous times due to bad weather and technical glitches. When the mission finally did lift off the pad, an O-ring seal failure destroyed the shuttle 73 seconds into the flight, killing Scobee and the other six members of the crew; the tragedy, viewed live on national television, prompted several days of national mourning, as well as a major shakeup at NASA. Scobee died a Lieutenant colonel. At T+68 into the mission, the CAPCOM Richard Covey informed the crew that they were "go at throttle up", and Commander Scobee confirmed the call – his last recorded words were his response, "Roger, go at throttle up." The shuttle broke up 73 seconds into the flight, and at an altitude of 48,000 feet (14.6 km).
Some experts, including one of NASA’s lead investigators, Robert Overmyer, who was closest to Scobee, believed most if not all of the crew were alive and possibly conscious during the entire descent until impact with the ocean. After the investigation, Overmyer stated, "I not only flew with Dick Scobee, we owned a plane together, and I know Scob did everything he could to save his crew. Scob fought for any and every edge to survive. He flew that ship without wings all the way down."
Awards and recognition
On July 9, 1994, the San Antonio College Planetarium facility was rededicated The Scobee Planetarium. In 2004, Scobee was posthumously awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor and was inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame. After the Challenger disaster, North Auburn Elementary School was renamed Dick Scobee Elementary in his honor. Auburn Municipal Airport was also renamed Dick Scobee Field. Dick Scobee Road in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina was also named in his honor. Also located nearby in Myrtle Beach are Ronald McNair Boulevard and Christa McAuliffe Street. Lastly, in Houston, TX’s George Bush Park, there is a R/C (Remote Controlled) Flying Field named in his honor. Scobee was portrayed by Barry Bostwick in the 1990 TV movie Challenger. He also made an appearance in the Imax documentary The Dream is Alive, shot during the STS-41C mission. Also, in San Antonio, TX, Dick Scobee Elementary was erected, with a dedication ceremony attended by his wife.
He enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1957, where he served as a reciprocating engine mechanic at Kelly Air Force Base in Texas. While off duty, he attended San Antonio College, and eventually received a Bachelor of Science degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Arizona in 1965; the same year, he was awarded an officer’s commission. Afterward, he attended flight school and earned his wings in 1966, serving as a combat aviator in the Vietnam War. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal, and other decorations.
After his tour of duty, Scobee attended the Aerospace Research Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, 100 miles north of Los Angeles, California. Upon graduation in 1972, he became an Air Force test pilot, logging thousands of hours of flight time in dozens of aircraft, including the Boeing 747, the experimental X-24B lifting body, the F-111 Aardvark, and the gigantic C-5 Galaxy.
Selected for NASA’s astronaut program in January 1978, Scobee completed his training in August 1979. While awaiting his first orbital spaceflight mission, he served as an instructor pilot for the shuttle’s 747 carrier aircraft. In April 1984, Scobee piloted Challenger mission STS-41-C, which successfully deployed one satellite and repaired another.
Scobee was married to Virginia June Kent and had two children, Kathie R. (Scobee) Fulgham and Brigadier General Richard W. Scobee, USAF. Buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Scobee was survived by his wife and children. June Scobee remarried in 1989 to retired Army LTG Don Rodgers. Scobee’s son graduated from the US Air Force Academy, has flown F-16s for the USAF, and has commanded the 944th Fighter Wing, the 301st Fighter Wing, and is now the deputy director of operations for NORAD. He led the military flyover during the pre game of Super Bowl XXX, which was played on the 10th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Disaster. January 28, 1996."Naval Air Station Area Impact Expected To Grow With Base", Fort Worth Business Press, Fort Worth, TX, 22 February 2010 He was promoted to Brigadier General in December 2010.
His niece is former Scientologist, Amy Scobee.