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Michael P. Anderson was born on this date in 1959. He was a Black pilot and astronaut.
He was born on Christmas Day in Plattsburgh, New York, the son of Bobby and Barbara Anderson. His father was an Air Force serviceman and had a great influence on his son's career choice. Young Anderson dreamed of the universe and space flight from the time he was a boy. He knew from an early age that he would become an astronaut. He got his first toy airplane at age 3.
He grew up in Spokane and considered it to be his hometown. He attended Morning Star Baptist Church and graduated from Cheney High School in the farm town next to Fairchild Air Force Base about 25 miles from Spokane. He was married to the former Sandra Lynn Hawkins.
After graduation from the University of Washington in 1981 with a bachelor's degree in science, he became an EC-135 pilot with the 2nd Airborne Command and Control Squadron. He was a flight instructor and tactics officer with over 3,000 hours in various airplanes. Anderson earned a master's degree in physics from Creighton University in 1990. In 1994, while stationed at Plattsburgh Air Force Base, he was chosen for the space shuttle program, one of 19 candidates selected that year from among 2,962 applicants. He logged over 211 hours in space, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
He was on the Shuttle-Mir docking mission in 1998 when the crew transferred more than 9,000 pounds of scientific equipment and other hardware from the Endeavour to the Mir.
Anderson said in an interview with the University of Washington alumni newsletter in 1998, "I never had any serious doubts about it. “I don’t know why I didn’t experience fear,” he said. “Maybe it’s because the training simply prepares you for it. He added, "Fear is one of those things you simply do not dwell upon.”
But on the eve of his last flight, Anderson did talk about the risk of space flight. "There's always that unknown," he said to reporters just before the Columbia lifted off on January 16, 2003.
Lt. Col. Michael P. Anderson died on February 5, 2003, in an explosion of the Space Shuttle Colombia.
The World Book Encyclopedia.
Copyright 1996, World Book, Inc.
To become a Pilot