How Amarillo Has Played A Big Role At NASA
When you think of Amarillo, Texas, you don't normally think about NASA and outer space. However, Amarillo has more history with space travel then you think. With the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 and the moon landing, here are some ties the Texas panhandle has to the space program. If we left anything off, be sure to let us know!
Amarillo Native, USAF Colonel and Astronaut Rick Douglas Husband
Born July 12, 1957, in Amarillo, Texas. Died on February 1, 2003 over the southern United States when Space Shuttle Columbia and the crew perished during entry, 16 minutes prior to scheduled landing. Graduated from Amarillo High School, Amarillo, Texas, in 1975. Received a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from Texas Tech University in 1980, and a master of science degree in mechanical engineering from California State University, Fresno, in 1990. Husband was selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in December 1994. He reported to the Johnson Space Center in March 1995 to begin a year of training and evaluation. Upon completion of training, he was named the Astronaut Office representative for Advanced Projects at Johnson Space Center, working on Space Shuttle Upgrades, the Crew Return Vehicle (CRV) and studies to return to the Moon and travel to Mars. He also served as Chief of Safety for the Astronaut Office. Husband was pilot on STS-96 (1999) and crew commander on STS-107 (2003), logging 24 days, 51 hours and 33 minutes in space.
Several Times The Space Shuttles Landed In Amarillo
Amarillo's location between California and Florida made us a convenient spot when the Space Shuttle would make cross country trips. When weather was bad in Florida, the Space Shuttle would sometimes be forced to land in California. Although the shuttle looks like it plane, it doesn't take off and land like one. So NASA has a special Boeing 747 plane where the shuttle can be strapped on top and ride piggy-back to Florida. Amarillo has seen visits from Atlantis in 2007 and Discovery in 2009.
September 2011 - Amarillo's Texas Air and Space Museum Adds NASA Shuttle Trainer Aircraft To The Collection
As the shuttle program ended, a shuttle trainer from NASA was added to the local aircraft collection. The trainer had been flown by Rick Husband for 198 days and 86 night landings. The trainer duplicates the operations of an actual space shuttle and astronauts had to fly 1,000 approaches in the aircraft before they could fly the actual shuttle.
September 2018 - NASA Names Holly Ridings New Chief Flight Director
Ridings, a native of Amarillo, Texas, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from Texas A&M University in 1996. She joined NASA in 1998 as a flight controller in the thermal operations group. She was selected as a flight director in 2005. Since then, she has served as the lead flight director for several missions including International Space Station mission Expedition 16 in 2007-2008, Space Shuttle Program mission STS-127 in 2009, and the first SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft mission to the space station in 2012.