CAPE CANAVERAL, FL (KLTV) - The next cargo spacecraft to launch to the International Space Station will bear the name of an American astronaut killed in the 2003 Space Shuttle Columbia tragedy over East Texas.
An Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo resupply spacecraft bearing the name S.S. Rick Husband will launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida on March 22.
Husband served as commander of the STS-107 mission aboard Space Shuttle Columbia, which broke apart during reentry over East Texas on February 1, 2003. All seven crew members perished in the accident, just 16 minutes before the scheduled landing in Florida.
Orbital ATK, which has named previous resupply missions after deceased astronauts, made the announcement at a Tuesday afternoon news conference.
The unmanned Cygnus spacecraft will launch atop an Atlas V rocket, carrying carry 7,700 pounds of supplies and hardware to the space station in support of the Expedition 47 and 48 crews. This will be the fifth resupply mission under the company's Commercial Resupply Services contract with NASA.
Scheduled to arrive at the station three days after launch, the S.S. Rick Husband will remain attached to the orbiting outpost for two months while astronauts remove the cargo and fill it with items for disposal when the spacecraft burns up in the atmosphere on reentry.
This mission is the first to be named after an astronaut who actually participated in construction of the space station, a news release stated. "Orbital ATK is proud to add Rick's name to our legacy of cargo delivery to this outpost in space, and to honor the memory of this brave and dedicated crew."
Husband piloted Space Shuttle Discovery on STS-96, the first flight to dock with the station.
Born on July 12, 1957, Husband was a graduate of Texas Tech University and earned a master of science degree from California State University- Fresno.
A 14-year test pilot for the U.S. Air Force, he was selected as a NASA astronaut candidate in 1994 and logged more than 24 days in space on two shuttle missions.
Husband enjoyed singing, water and snow skiing, cycling, and spending time with his family, according to a NASA biography. Rick is survived by his wife Evelyn and his children, Laura and Matthew.
His hometown of Amarillo, Texas renamed the city's airport after him; Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport.