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The Challenger's Crew

February 09, 1986

The crew members of the shuttle Challenger represented a cross-section of America. There were three test pilots, one a Japanese-American; a black physicist; two women, one an electrical engineer and the other a high school teacher from New Hampshire. Following their deaths were dozens of memorial services across the country, fund-raising campaigns and a suggestion to name the newly discovered moons of the planet Uranus in their honor.

FRANCIS RICHARD SCOBEE, 46, a Washington state native, married and father of two, commanded the flight on his second shuttle mission. Scobee flew in Vietnam and went to work for NASA in 1978. He once said, "When you find something you really like to do, and you're willing to risk the consequences of that, you really probably ought to go do it."

MICHAEL JOHN SMITH, 40, the pilot, was on his first space mission. Smith, a Navy commander, was born and raised in Beaufort, N.C. He was graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, flew a combat tour in Vietnam, trained as a test pilot and was selected as an astronaut in 1980. He was married and the father of three children. Among the memorial services last week was a special service at the Naval Academy.

RONALD ERWIN MCNAIR, 35, a shuttle flight veteran, received a doctorate in physics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was an expert on lasers. Born and raised in Lake City, S.C., McNair was chosen with the eighth group of astronauts in 1978 and made his first space flight in 1984. He was married and the father of two. He was eulogized by fellow workers at the Hughes Research Laboratories in Malibu as "a very, very smart person, very easy to talk to. He loved to laugh and joke."

ELLISON SHOJI ONIZUKA, 39, was an Air Force lieutenant colonel, a former aerospace engineer and pilot. He taught at the Air Force's test pilot school at Edwards AFB. He was on his second space shuttle mission. Onizuka, married and the father of two children, served as a crewman on a secret Department of Defense shuttle last January. He was born in Kona, Hawaii. There were special services in Los Angeles and Hawaii memorializing him as the first Buddhist in space.

JUDITH ARLENE RESNIK, 36, a classical pianist and research scientist with a doctorate in electrical engineering, became an astronaut in 1978. During her first space flight in 1984, she operated the shuttle's arm to delicately break away ice that had formed on the space shuttle Discovery. She was divorced. The first Jewish astronaut, she was memorialized during services in her hometown of Akron, Ohio.

GREGORY B. JARVIS, 41, a former Air Force captain who resigned his commission to join Hughes Aircraft as an engineer, was aboard the Challenger to conduct experiments on the effects of weightlessness on fluid carried in tanks. Jarvis was born in Detroit and earned degrees from two northeastern universities. He was married.

SHARON CHRISTA MCAULIFFE, 37, a high school social studies teacher from Concord, N.H., competed with 11,146 other teachers in NASA's citizen-in-space program to become the first private citizen to fly on the space shuttle. In preparation for the flight, she underwent 120 hours of space training at Johnson Space Center. She was married and the mother of two. Her presence on the shuttle was the focus of most of the memorials; there were special services in Concord and at her school.

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