Here is the answer to the Who Can It Be Intuitive Development Exercise
MICHAEL J SMITH (MIKE)
Pilot of the Challenger Mission, Captain – US Navy, NASA Astronaut
Born April 30, 1945, in Beaufort, North Carolina; an airfield there is named for him.
He is survived by his wife, Jane, and three children. Michael enjoyed woodworking, running, tennis, and squash.
EDUCATION: Graduated from Beaufort High School, Beaufort, North Carolina, in 1963.
He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1967 with a Bachelor of Science in Naval Science. In 1968, he received a Master of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School.
He served as a fighter pilot during the Vietnam War, earning numerous decorations for combat including the Distinguished Flying Cross. He continued his career with the Navy after the war, becoming a Navy test pilot.
Smith was selected for the astronaut program in May 1980; in addition to being pilot on the Challenger, he had been slated to pilot a future shuttle mission which had been scheduled for Fall of 1986.
Captain Smith died on January 28, 1986 when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded after launch from the Kennedy Space Center, also taking the lives of spacecraft commander, Mr. F.R. Scobee, three mission specialists, Dr. R.E. McNair, Lieutenant Colonel E.S. Onizuka (USAF), and Dr. J.A. Resnik, and two civilian payload specialists, Mr. G.B. Jarvis and Mrs. S. C. McAuliffe.
Smith’s voice was the last one heard on the Challenger voice recorder. Just before Mission Control received the last telemetry data, Smith was heard saying, “Uh-oh.” The Shuttle broke up 73 seconds into the flight, and at an altitude of 48,000 feet (14.6 km).
While analyzing the wreckage, investigators discovered that several electrical system switches on Smith’s right-hand panel had been moved from their usual launch positions. Fellow Astronaut Richard Mullane wrote, “These switches were protected with lever locks that required them to be pulled outward against a spring force before they could be moved to a new position.” Later tests established that neither the force of the explosion, nor the impact with the ocean could have moved them, indicating that Smith made the switch changes, presumably in a futile attempt to restore electrical power to the cockpit after the crew cabin detached from the rest of the orbiter.
Smith was quite critical of NASA’s decision to scrub the scheduled January 26 launch of Challenger due to a forecast of rain. His experience as a pilot naturally led him to study the weather patterns prior to the flight, and a study of the jet stream caused him to be concerned about an approaching cold front over Cape Canaveral. Earlier, he had urged NASA technicians to complete installation of needed spare parts so the shuttle could get off the ground by January 26 at the latest. As it turned out, the expected rain never arrived, and a frustrated Smith told a friend, “You know, you’ve got people down here making decisions who’ve never even flown an airplane before.”
He was promoted posthumously by Congress to the rank of Captain, and has had a Chair named in his honour at the United States Navy Postgraduate School. Among his other posthumous awards was the Purple Heart medal.
Smith was portrayed by Brian Kerwin in the 1990 TV movie Challenger.