David McDowell Brown (April 16, 1956 – February 1, 2003) was a United States Naval Captain and a NASA astronaut. He died on his first space flight, when the Space Shuttle Columbia (STS-107) disintegrated during orbital reentry into the Earth's atmosphere. Brown became an astronaut in 1996, but had not served on a space mission prior to the Columbia disaster.
Brown, the 1986 recipient of the Navy Operational Flight Surgeon of the Year award, received numerous decorations including:
The † symbol indicates a posthumous award.
Brown joined the Navy after his internship at the Medical University of South Carolina. Upon completion of flight surgeon training in 1984, he reported to the Navy Branch Hospital in Adak, Alaska, as Director of Medical Services. He was then assigned to Carrier Airwing Fifteen which deployed aboard the USS Carl Vinson in the western Pacific. In 1988, he was the only flight surgeon in a ten year period to be chosen for pilot training. He was ultimately designated a naval aviator in 1990 in Beeville, Texas, ranking number one in his class. Brown was then sent for training and carrier qualification in the A-6E Intruder. In 1991 he reported to the Naval Strike Warfare Center in Fallon, Nevada, where he served as a Strike Leader Attack Training Syllabus Instructor and a Contingency Cell Planning Officer. Additionally, he was qualified in the F-18 Hornet and deployed from Japan in 1992 aboard the USS Independence flying the A-6E with VA-115. In 1995, he reported to the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School as their flight surgeon where he also flew the T-38 Talon.
Brown logged over 2,700 flight hours with 1,700 in high performance military aircraft. He was qualified as first pilot in NASA T-38 aircraft.
Selected by NASA in April 1996, Brown reported to the Johnson Space Center in August 1996. He completed two years of training and evaluation, and was qualified for flight assignment as a mission specialist. He was initially assigned to support payload development for the International Space Station, followed by the astronaut support team responsible for orbiter cockpit setup, crew strap-in, and landing recovery. Brown flew aboard STS-107, logging 15 days, 22 hours, and 20 minutes in space.
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 abruptly on February 1, 2003 when Space Shuttle Columbia and her crew perished during entry, 16 minutes before scheduled landing.