Dick Scobee
Francis Richard "Dick" Scobee (May 19, 1939 - January 28, 1986) was an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

An astronaut or cosmonaut is a person trained by a human spaceflight program to command, pilot, or serve as a crew member of a spacecraft....

. He was killed commanding the Space Shuttle Challenger
Space Shuttle Challenger
Space Shuttle Challenger was NASA's second Space Shuttle orbiter to be put into service, Columbia having been the first. The shuttle was built by Rockwell International's Space Transportation Systems Division in Downey, California...

, which suffered catastrophic booster
Booster rocket
A booster rocket is either the first stage of a multi-stage launch vehicle, or else a strap-on rocket used to augment the core launch vehicle's takeoff thrust and payload capability. Boosters are generally necessary to launch spacecraft into Earth orbit or beyond...

 failure during launch of the STS-51-L
STS-51-L was the twenty-fifth flight of the American Space Shuttle program, which marked the first time an ordinary civilian, schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe, had flown aboard the Space Shuttle. The mission used Space Shuttle Challenger, which lifted off from the Launch Complex 39-B on 28 January...


Early life

Born in Cle Elum, Washington
Cle Elum, Washington
Cle Elum is a city in Kittitas County, Washington, United States. The population was 1,872 at the 2010 census. Only an hour and a half's drive from Seattle, Cle Elum is a popular area for camping and outdoor activities.-Early years and industries:...

 to Francis William Scobee and Edlynn (Miller) Scobee, Scobee attended Auburn Senior High School
Auburn Senior High School
Auburn Senior High School is a public high School in Auburn, Washington founded in 1903. The school is situated on of land in downtown Auburn, its campus includes the Auburn Performing Arts Center , The Auburn Swimming Pool, Auburn Memorial Stadium and the Administration Annex.-Academics:Auburn...

, Cascade Middle School, and Washington Elementary in Auburn, Washington
Auburn, Washington
-Parks:Auburn has an extensive system of parks, open space and urban trails comprising 29 developed parks, 5 undeveloped sites under planning, 2 skate parks, 2 water roatary parks, and over of trails , and almost of open space for passive and active recreation.-Environmental Park:The Auburn...

. He graduated in 1957.


He enlisted in the United States Air Force
United States Air Force
The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

 in 1957, where he served as a reciprocating engine
Reciprocating engine
A reciprocating engine, also often known as a piston engine, is a heat engine that uses one or more reciprocating pistons to convert pressure into a rotating motion. This article describes the common features of all types...

A mechanic is a craftsman or technician who uses tools to build or repair machinery.Many mechanics are specialized in a particular field such as auto mechanics, bicycle mechanics, motorcycle mechanics, boiler mechanics, general mechanics, industrial maintenance mechanics , air conditioning and...

 at Kelly Air Force Base
Kelly Air Force Base
Kelly Field Annex and is a former United States Air Force facility located in San Antonio, Texas. In 2001, the runway and land west of the runway became "Kelly Field Annex" and control of it was transferred to the adjacent Lackland Air Force Base, part of Joint Base San Antonio...

 in Texas. While off duty, he attended San Antonio College
San Antonio College
San Antonio College is a community college that is a part of the Alamo Community College District. It is located on San Pedro Avenue, across from San Pedro Park, near downtown San Antonio. SAC is the oldest public two-year college in Texas...

, and eventually received a Bachelor of Science
Bachelor of Science
A Bachelor of Science is an undergraduate academic degree awarded for completed courses that generally last three to five years .-Australia:In Australia, the BSc is a 3 year degree, offered from 1st year on...

 degree in aerospace engineering
Aerospace engineering
Aerospace engineering is the primary branch of engineering concerned with the design, construction and science of aircraft and spacecraft. It is divided into two major and overlapping branches: aeronautical engineering and astronautical engineering...

 from the University of Arizona
University of Arizona
The University of Arizona is a land-grant and space-grant public institution of higher education and research located in Tucson, Arizona, United States. The University of Arizona was the first university in the state of Arizona, founded in 1885...

 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
Combat, or fighting, is a purposeful violent conflict meant to establish dominance over the opposition, or to terminate the opposition forever, or drive the opposition away from a location where it is not wanted or needed....

An aviator is a person who flies an aircraft. The first recorded use of the term was in 1887, as a variation of 'aviation', from the Latin avis , coined in 1863 by G. de la Landelle in Aviation Ou Navigation Aérienne...

 in the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal
Air Medal
The Air Medal is a military decoration of the United States. The award was created in 1942, and is awarded for meritorious achievement while participating in aerial flight.-Criteria:...

, and other decorations.

After his tour of duty, Scobee attended the Aerospace Research Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base
Edwards Air Force Base
Edwards Air Force Base is a United States Air Force base located on the border of Kern County, Los Angeles County, and San Bernardino County, California, in the Antelope Valley. It is southwest of the central business district of North Edwards, California and due east of Rosamond.It is named in...

, 100 miles north of Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles , with a population at the 2010 United States Census of 3,792,621, is the most populous city in California, USA and the second most populous in the United States, after New York City. It has an area of , and is located in Southern California...

. Upon graduation in 1972, he became an Air Force test pilot
Test pilot
A test pilot is an aviator who flies new and modified aircraft in specific maneuvers, known as flight test techniques or FTTs, allowing the results to be measured and the design to be evaluated....

, logging thousands of hours of flight time in dozens of aircraft, including the Boeing 747
Boeing 747
The Boeing 747 is a wide-body commercial airliner and cargo transport, often referred to by its original nickname, Jumbo Jet, or Queen of the Skies. It is among the world's most recognizable aircraft, and was the first wide-body ever produced...

, the experimental X-24B lifting body
Lifting body
A lifting body is a fixed-wing aircraft configuration in which the body itself produces lift. In contrast to a flying wing, which is a wing with minimal or no conventional fuselage, a lifting body can be thought of as a fuselage with little or no conventional wing...

, the F-111 Aardvark
General Dynamics F-111
The General Dynamics F-111 "Aardvark" was a medium-range interdictor and tactical strike aircraft that also filled the roles of strategic bomber, reconnaissance, and electronic warfare in its various versions. Developed in the 1960s by General Dynamics, it first entered service in 1967 with the...

, and the gigantic C-5 Galaxy
C-5 Galaxy
The Lockheed C-5 Galaxy is a large military transport aircraft built by Lockheed. It provides the United States Air Force with a heavy intercontinental-range strategic airlift capability, one that can carry outsize and oversize cargos, including all air-certifiable cargo. The Galaxy has many...


Selected for NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

's astronaut program in January 1978, Scobee completed his training in August 1979. While awaiting his first orbital spaceflight
Orbital spaceflight
An orbital spaceflight is a spaceflight in which a spacecraft is placed on a trajectory where it could remain in space for at least one orbit. To do this around the Earth, it must be on a free trajectory which has an altitude at perigee above...

 mission, he served as an instructor pilot for the shuttle's 747 carrier aircraft
Shuttle Carrier Aircraft
The Shuttle Carrier Aircraft are two extensively modified Boeing 747 airliners that NASA uses to transport Space Shuttle orbiters...

. In April 1984, Scobee piloted Challenger mission STS-41-C
STS-41-C was NASA's 11th Space Shuttle mission, and the fifth mission of Space Shuttle Challenger. The launch on 6 April 1984 was the first direct ascent trajectory for a shuttle mission...

, which successfully deployed one satellite
In the context of spaceflight, a satellite is an object which has been placed into orbit by human endeavour. Such objects are sometimes called artificial satellites to distinguish them from natural satellites such as the Moon....

 and repaired another.


Scobee was assigned commander for the ill-fated STS-51-L
STS-51-L was the twenty-fifth flight of the American Space Shuttle program, which marked the first time an ordinary civilian, schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe, had flown aboard the Space Shuttle. The mission used Space Shuttle Challenger, which lifted off from the Launch Complex 39-B on 28 January...

 mission. The mission, designed to deploy a satellite to study the approaching Halley's Comet
Comet Halley
Halley's Comet or Comet Halley is the best-known of the short-period comets, and is visible from Earth every 75 to 76 years. Halley is the only short-period comet that is clearly visible to the naked eye from Earth, and thus the only naked-eye comet that might appear twice in a human lifetime...

 and to inaugurate the Teacher in Space Project
Teacher in Space Project
The Teacher in Space Project was a NASA program announced by Ronald Reagan in 1984 designed to inspire students, honor teachers, and spur interest in mathematics, science, and space exploration....

, was delayed numerous times due to bad weather and technical glitches. When the mission finally did lift off the pad
Launch pad
A launch pad is the area and facilities where rockets or spacecraft lift off. A spaceport can contain one or many launch pads. A typical launch pad consists of the service and umbilical structures. The service structure provides an access platform to inspect the launch vehicle prior to launch....

, an O-ring
An O-ring, also known as a packing, or a toric joint, is a mechanical gasket in the shape of a torus; it is a loop of elastomer with a disc-shaped cross-section, designed to be seated in a groove and compressed during assembly between two or more parts, creating a seal at the interface.The O-ring...

 seal failure destroyed the shuttle
Space Shuttle Challenger disaster
The Space Shuttle Challenger disaster occurred on January 28, 1986, when Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart 73 seconds into its flight, leading to the deaths of its seven crew members. The spacecraft disintegrated over the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of central Florida at 11:38 am EST...

 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
Lieutenant Colonel (United States)
In the United States Army, United States Air Force, and United States Marine Corps, a lieutenant colonel is a field grade military officer rank just above the rank of major and just below the rank of colonel. It is equivalent to the naval rank of commander in the other uniformed services.The pay...

. 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."


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
Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington County, Virginia, is a military cemetery in the United States of America, established during the American Civil War on the grounds of Arlington House, formerly the estate of the family of Confederate general Robert E. Lee's wife Mary Anna Lee, a great...

, 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
944th Fighter Wing
The United States Air Force's 944th Fighter Wing is an initial fighter training unit located at Luke AFB, Arizona.-Mission:The mission of the 944th Fighter Wing is to train F-16 pilots and provide combat ready fighter pilots for the Air Force....

, the 301st Fighter Wing
301st Fighter Wing
The 301st Fighter Wing is a United States Air Force Reserve fighter wing, based at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth Carswell Field, Texas. It is equipped with the F-16C+ Fighting Falcon...

, and is now the deputy director of operations for NORAD. He led the military flyover during the pre game of Super Bowl XXX
Super Bowl XXX
Super Bowl XXX was an American football game played on January 28, 1996 at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona to decide the National Football League champion following the 1995 regular season...

, which was played on the 10th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Disaster. January 28, 1996. He was promoted to Brigadier General in December 2010.

Awards and recognition

On July 9, 1994, the San Antonio College
San Antonio College
San Antonio College is a community college that is a part of the Alamo Community College District. It is located on San Pedro Avenue, across from San Pedro Park, near downtown San Antonio. SAC is the oldest public two-year college in Texas...

 Planetarium facility was rededicated The Scobee Planetarium. In 2004, Scobee was posthumously awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor
Congressional Space Medal of Honor
The Congressional Space Medal of Honor was authorized by the United States Congress in 1969 to recognize "any astronaut who in the performance of his duties has distinguished himself by exceptionally meritorious efforts and contributions to the welfare of the Nation and mankind." The highest award...

 and was inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame. After the Challenger disaster, North Auburn Elementary School was re-named Dick Scobee Elementary in his honor. Auburn Municipal Airport
Auburn Municipal Airport (Washington)
The Auburn Municipal Airport is a city-owned public-use airport located north of downtown Auburn, in King County, Washington. The airport is also referred to as the Dick Scobee Field, after Francis "Dick" Scobee, an Auburn and Washington native who was the commander astronaut for the space...

 was also renamed Dick Scobee Field. Dick Scobee Road in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Myrtle Beach is a coastal city on the east coast of the United States in Horry County, South Carolina. It is situated on the center of a large and continuous stretch of beach known as the Grand Strand in northeastern South Carolina. It is considered to be a major tourist destination in the...

 was also named in his honor. Also located nearby in Myrtle Beach are Ronald McNair
Ronald McNair
Ronald Ervin McNair, Ph.D. was a physicist and NASA astronaut. McNair died during the launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger on mission STS-51-L.-Background:...

 Boulevard and Christa McAuliffe
Christa McAuliffe
Christa McAuliffe was an American teacher from Concord, New Hampshire, and was one of the seven crew members killed in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster....

 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
Barry Bostwick
Barry Knapp Bostwick is an American actor and singer. He is known for playing Brad Majors in the 1975 cult classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show, replacing Peter Scolari as Mr. Tyler in the sitcom What I Like About You, and playing mayor Randall Winston in the sitcom Spin City...

 in the 1990 TV movie Challenger
Challenger (TV film)
Challenger is an ABC TV-movie based on the events surrounding the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. Its production was somewhat controversial as the families of the astronauts generally objected to it. The film concentrates on the safety inspections and arguments surrounding the O-rings that...

. He also made an appearance in the Imax
IMAX is a motion picture film format and a set of proprietary cinema projection standards created by the Canadian company IMAX Corporation. IMAX has the capacity to record and display images of far greater size and resolution than conventional film systems...

 documentary The Dream is Alive
The Dream Is Alive
The Dream is Alive is an IMAX movie, released in June 1985, about NASA's Space Shuttle program. The film was narrated by Walter Cronkite, and directed by Graeme Ferguson.-Synopsis:...

, shot during the STS-41C mission. Also, in San Antonio, TX, Dick Scobee Elementary was erected, with a dedication ceremony attended by his wife.

External links

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