Rick, a young senior at Amarillo High School in Texas was as happy as could be when he finally had enough money to buy himself his first car. Not just any car, but a shiny brand spanking new 1975 Chevrolet Camaro LT with new intermittent wipers, and a 170 horsepower four barrel engine lurking under the hood.
This classic hot rod car became Ricks primary mode of transportation, from his high school grad in 75, through his university years, and faithfully, driven to and from his workplace, right up until 2003
On the back window of his unassuming 75 Camaro, is an old very faded sticker from Texas Tech University, and affixed to the front window, is Rick's NASA parking permit.
Rick, parked his beloved classic Chevy Camaro in his reserved spot at work, not knowing it would be the very last time he would drive it…On January 16th, 2003, Space Shuttle Columbia (STS-107) and her crew of seven, all under the command of Rick, better known as Space Shuttle Commander Richard Douglas "Rick" Husband, Transport #107 ignited her engines with over 7.8 millions pounds of thrust, and rocketed away from Kennedy Space Center on two colossal pillars of fire, as Colombia, and her crew slipped the surly bonds of earth, and departed our atmosphere.
After a successful mission, lasting 15 days, 22 hours, 20 minutes, and 32 seconds… travelling over six million, six hundred thousand miles, Columbia, and her crew were looking forward to coming home...
On Feb. 1st, 2003, as mission #107 was coming to a close, and her crew were heading home, only 15 minutes before her scheduled landing, Space Shuttle Columbia was torn apart during re-entry into our earth’s atmosphere as a result of damage incurred to a reinforced carbon-carbon leading edge wing panel that had resulted from a small piece of insulation foam breaking away from the external tank during the launch sequence. Space Shuttle Columbia, OV-102, suffered a structural failure in the shuttle's left wing and, shortly afterward, the complete disintegration of the Orbiter at Mach 19.5, or twenty times the speed of sound, at an altitude of 197,000 feet over Ricks home state of Texas.
On that day, seven heroes were lost...Astronauts Rick D. Husband (L), mission commander; Kalpana Chawla, mission specialist; and William C. McCool, pilot. Standing are (L to R) astronauts David M. Brown, Laurel B. Clark, and Michael P. Anderson, all mission specialists; and Ilan Ramon, payload specialist - Israeli Space Agency
Quietly awaiting the return of Columbia’s Commander, and her brave crew, sitting in silent vigilance, just as it did so many years ago in the car dealership showroom, was Rick's old and faithful Camaro.