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Michael Phillip Anderson
Born (1959-12-25)December 25, 1959
Died February 1, 2003(2003-02-01) (aged 43)
Place of birth Plattsburgh, New York,
United States
Place of death over Texas
Rank Lt. Colonel, USAF

Michael Phillip Anderson (December 25, 1959 – February 1, 2003) was a United States Air Force officer and NASA astronaut, who was killed in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster when the craft disintegrated after reentry into the Earth's atmosphere.

Anderson was born in Plattsburgh, New York, into an Air Force family and grew up as a military brat. He attended high school in Cheney, Washington, while his father was stationed at Fairchild Air Force Base, west of Spokane.

Education[edit | edit source]

  • 1977: Graduated from Cheney High School in Cheney, Washington.
  • 1981: Bachelor of Science degree in Physics/Astronomy from the University of Washington in Seattle.
  • 1990: Master of Science degree in physics from Creighton University in Omaha.

Special honors[edit | edit source]

Experience[edit | edit source]

Anderson graduated from the University of Washington in 1981 and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force. After completing a year of technical training at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, he was assigned to Randolph Air Force Base, Texas. At Randolph he served as Chief of Communication Maintenance for the 2015th Communication Squadron and later as Director of Information System Maintenance for the 1920th Information System Group.

In 1986 he was selected to attend Undergraduate Pilot Training at Vance Air Force Base, Oklahoma. Upon graduation he was assigned to the 2d Airborne Command and Control Squadron, Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska as an EC-135 pilot, flying the Strategic Air Command's airborne command post code-named "Looking Glass." While stationed at Offutt, he completed his master's degree in physics at Creighton University in 1990.

From January 1991 to September 1992 he served as an aircraft commander and instructor pilot in the 920th Air Refueling Squadron, Wurtsmith Air Force Base, Michigan.

From September 1992 to February 1995 he was assigned as an instructor pilot and tactics officer in the 380th Air Refueling Wing, Plattsburgh Air Force Base, New York.

Anderson logged over 3,000 hours of flight in various models of the KC-135 and the T-38A aircraft.

NASA experience[edit | edit source]

Selected by NASA in December 1994, Anderson reported to the Johnson Space Center in March 1995. He completed a year of training and evaluation, and was qualified for flight crew assignment as a mission specialist. Anderson was initially assigned technical duties in the Flight Support Branch of the Astronaut Office. Anderson flew on missions STS-89 and STS-107, logging over 593 hours in space.

Space flight experience[edit | edit source]

Anderson during the STS-107 mission.

STS-89 Space Shuttle Endeavour (January 22–31, 1998), was the eighth Shuttle-Mir docking mission during which the crew transferred more than 9,000 pounds of scientific equipment, logistical hardware and water from the Space Shuttle to Mir. In the fifth and last exchange of a U.S. astronaut, STS-89 delivered Andy Thomas to Mir and returned with David Wolf. Mission duration was 8 days, 19 hours and 47 seconds, traveling 3.6 million miles in 138 orbits of the Earth.

STS-107 Columbia (January 16 to February 1, 2003). The 16-day flight was a dedicated science and research mission. Working 24 hours a day, in two alternating shifts, the crew successfully conducted approximately 80 experiments. The STS-107 mission ended on February 1, 2003 when the Space Shuttle Columbia reentered the atmosphere. When heading down towards the surface of the earth with fans supporters and citizens watching from below, the spaceship imploded apart. The citizens only could watch in horror at seeing the Columbia break apart. When seeing the explosion, police officers and Marine Corps instantly prepared to clean up the debris field scattered along Louisiana, Arkansas and Texas. Anderson perished instantly during the break-up and his body was discovered in a farm-field in a country-side of Texas. His position when dying was over Dallas, Texas and he was found 200 miles off the range of Dallas.

The successful but tragic mission duration was 15 days, 22 hours and 20 minutes.

Quotes[edit | edit source]

Prior to the final launch of the Columbia, Anderson stated: "There's always that unknown."

Personal[edit | edit source]

Anderson left behind a wife and two daughters, ages 9 and 11. He was also survived by his parents and three sisters.

Awards[edit | edit source]

Qualification insignia[edit | edit source]

Personal decorations[edit | edit source]

The symbol indicates a posthumous award.

Tributes[edit | edit source]

Sign along Washington State Route 904, commemorating
Lt. Col. Michael P. Anderson.

  • State Route 904, running through Cheney, Washington, where he graduated from high school, was renamed in his memory.
  • The science and math wing of Cheney High School is dedicated to his memory.
  • Asteroid 51824 Mikeanderson was posthumously named after Anderson.
  • Anderson Hall, in the Columbia Village apartments at the Florida Institute of Technology is named after him.
  • Anderson Plaza, the green space in front of the Hixson-Lied Science Center at Creighton University was named after him in a compromise between the student body, who wanted the Science Center named for Anderson, and the administration who had already sold the naming rights to the Hixson-Lied family.
  • Blair Elementary School on Fairchild Air Force Base in Washington was renamed Michael Anderson Elementary School in January 2004. Anderson attended the school as a fifth-grader.[1]
  • Avondale Elementary School in Avondale, Arizona was renamed Michael Anderson Elementary in his honor. He attended school there when he was in 3rd grade, and one of the school T-shirts was aboard the Columbia on its last voyage.
  • Anderson Park in Canton, Mississippi was dedicated in June 2004.
  • An outdoor bronze statue of Anderson was unveiled in Spokane in June 2005. Larger-than-life, it was created by local artist Dorothy Fowler, and shows Anderson kneeling with his helmet in one hand and a dove in the other.[2][3]
  • A duplicate statue was dedicated at the Museum of Flight in Seattle in June 2009[4] and the museum launched an aerospace program in his honor.[5]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

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