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Air Force responds to Columbia tragedy. (Airman's World).

SAN ANTONIO -- Federal, state and local authorities continue the search for parts of the Space Shuttle Columbia that disintegrated over north central Texas Feb. 1.

Two Air Force officers were among the seven astronauts lost during the tragedy. Col. Rick Husband was the mission commander and Lt. Col. Michael Anderson was the payload commander.

The shuttle was preparing to land at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida when NASA's Mission Control in Houston lost contact. It was at an altitude of about 203,000 feet and traveling approximately 12,500 mph, or Mach 18.

Many Air Force units assisted with the recovery, identification, investigative and memorial support. Some of these include:

* The Department of Defense's manned space flight support office at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla. [See "Boosting the Shuttle, February 20031, coordinated initial DOD contingency support.

* The Air Force Rescue Coordination Center at Langley Air Force Base, Va. [See "Out of the Spotlight," September 20001, coordinated search and rescue.

* The 84th Radar Evaluation Squadron at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, provided a radar picture of the debris field.

* F-15s from the Louisiana Air Guard's 159th Fighter Wing conducted an initial aerial search for wreckage.

* A C-141 from McGuire Air Force Base, N.J., flew NASA's rapid response team from Kennedy Space Center to Barksdale Air Force Base, La.

* A team from Barksdale provided initial response support and worked closely with NASA and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

* Reserve F-16s from Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base at Fort Worth, Texas, provided search operations and precautionary security.

* UH-1s from Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas; C-I 30s from Fort Worth Air National Guard Base, Texas; and Civil Air Patrol aircraft and people from Texas, Louisiana and Florida provided search and recovery.

* Air Force Space Command units provided pertinent data from its radars and satellites for accident investigation.

* The Air Force Research Laboratory forwarded Shuttle imagery from telescopes at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., and the Maui Space Surveillance site, Hawaii [See "Space Watchers," August 20011, to NASA.

* The Air Force Band of the West performed at the memorial service at the Johnson Space Center, Texas.

* Three Air Force generals are part of NASA's investigation board reviewing events leading to the disaster.

RELATED ARTICLE: The road to space

Col. Rick Husband, 45, was a test pilot and served as mission commander for STS-107. He received his commission through the ROTC program at Texas Tech University in 1980 where he was a distinguished graduate and earned his bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering. He received his master of science degree in mechanical engineering from California State University-Fresno in 1990.

Husband earned his wings at Vance Air Force Base, Okla., in 1982 and learned to fly the F-4 at Homestead Air Force Base, Fla., before being assigned to Moody Air Force Base, Ga., and George Air Force Base, Calif. He was selected to attend the Air Force Test Pilot School [See "Supersonic School," May 20011 at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., in 1988, and remained there until becoming an exchange officer in London in 1994.

Selected by NASA in 1994, he had his first space mission in 1999 when he was the pilot of STS-96--a 10-day mission during which the crew performed the first docking with the International Space Station logging more than 235 hours in space.

Lt. Col. Michael Anderson, 43, a former instructor pilot and tactical officer, served as payload commander and mission specialist 3 for STS-t07. As payload commander, he was responsible for managing the science mission.

Anderson received his commission through the University of Washington ROTC program and earned his bachelor of science degree in physics/astronomy. He received his master of science degree in physics from Creighton University, Neb., in 1990.

He began his Air Force career as a communications maintenance officer with assignments at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss,, and Randolph Air Force Base, Texas. He earned his wings at Vance Air Force Base, Okia., in 1988 and flew the EC-135 at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. He then flew the KC-135 at Wurtsmith Air Force Base, Mich., and Plattsburgh Air Force Base, N.Y.

Selected by NASA in 1994, he had his first space mission in 1998 on STS-89--the eighth Shuttle-Mir docking mission--logging more than 211 hours in space.

(sources: Air Force Personnel Center and http://www.nasa.gov/columbia/crew/index.html)
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Title Annotation:includes related article
Author:Cook, Pamela A.Q.
Publication:Airman
Geographic Code:1U7TX
Date:Mar 1, 2003
Words:729
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