A NASA astronaut whose first spaceflight was the ill-fated remaining mission of the space shuttle Columbia is being remembered with the naming of a space station-bound cargo spacecraft.
Northrop Grumman on Thursday (April 6) introduced that its NG-19 Cygnus resupply vehicle will honor the late Laurel Clark (opens in new tab), “a woman whose career took her under the sea and to the stars.”
“I am honored to announce that our 19th mission will be named for Dr. Laurel Clark, a NASA astronaut, medical doctor, U.S. Navy Captain, space shuttle mission specialist and my former classmate in NASA astronaut group 16, affectionately nicknamed ‘The Sardines,'” Dani Tani, who immediately serves as Northrop Grumman’s director of enterprise improvement, stated in a video statement (opens in new tab) launched by the corporate. “This 12 months, we mark 20 year (opens in new tab)s because the space shuttle Columbia tragedy when Laurel and 6 different crew members misplaced their lives.”
“We are honored to name this Cygnus the ‘S.S. Laurel Clark’ in celebration of her enduring legacy,” he stated.
Prior to changing into a NASA astronaut in 1996, Clark obtained a bachelor’s diploma in zoology and a medical diploma from the University of Wisconsin in 1979 and 1987, respectively. While in medical college, she accomplished energetic obligation coaching with the diving medication division on the U.S. Navy Experimental Diving Unit and accomplished her postgraduate medical training in pediatrics on the National Naval Medical Center in 1988.
During her navy profession, Clark labored as a radiation well being officer, undersea medical officer, naval submarine medical officer, diving medical officer and naval flight surgeon.
As a member of the STS-107 crew, Clark joined her fellow six astronauts aboard Columbia in working 12 hours a day in alternating shifts to efficiently conduct 80 science experiments. Clark’s bioscience experiments included gardening in space. She loved taking pictures of Earth throughout her free time and in an e mail to household stated, “whenever I do get to look out, it is glorious.”
On Feb. 1, 2003, Clark and her STS-107 crewmates had been misplaced when Columbia did not survive reentry (opens in new tab) into Earth’s environment, the results of a particles impression throughout their launch. All seven astronauts had been posthumously awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor (opens in new tab) by President George W. Bush in 2004, roughly one 12 months after the tragedy.
Though they didn’t fly collectively, Clark and Tani did undergo primary coaching as members of the identical astronaut candidate class.
“Laurel and I trained together as mission specialists, and we bonded over our shared midwestern roots and fond connection to Scotland. I remember as a new mother herself, Laurel naturally took on a maternal role in our class, always looking out for everyone else and making sure that we were all doing well,” stated Tani. “Laura was caring, smart and incredibly accomplished. She was a great friend, colleague and astronaut.”
“At just 41 years old at the time of her death, she had already achieved so much, and she continues to inspire future generations of explorers,” he stated.
For the NG-19 mission (opens in new tab), slated to launch in May, the S.S. Laurel Clark will ship greater than 8,200 kilos (3,700 kilograms) of cargo for the Expedition 69 crew on the International Space Station. The Cygnus might be launched utilizing the final Northrop Grumman Antares 230+ rocket as the corporate transitions from utilizing Russian-built to U.S. rocket engines. The flight will depart from Pad 0A on the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) on Wallops Island in Virginia.
Once unloaded of its cargo, the S.S. Laurel Clark might be repacked with refuse and spent tools to be disposed of through the spacecraft’s deliberate damaging reentry into Earth’s atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean. Before leaving orbit, the Cygnus will once more host NASA’s Spacecraft Fire Safety Experiment (SAFFIRE), which research the way in which that fireside behaves in microgravity.
The S.S. Laurel Clark is the fifth Cygnus to be named for a girl and the third to honor a fallen Columbia astronaut. Northrop Grumman has a practice of naming every of its spacecraft after somebody who has made vital contributions to human spaceflight.
In addition to Clark’s fellow crewmates Rick Husband (opens in new tab) and Kalpana Chawla (opens in new tab), previous namesakes have included former firm govt J.R. Thompson, U.S. Air Force Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL) candidate Robert Lawrence, NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson and NASA astronauts David Low, Gordon Fullerton, Janice Voss, Deke Slayton, Alan Poindexter, John Glenn, Gene Cernan, John Young, Roger Chaffee, Alan Bean, Ellison Onizuka and Piers Sellers.
The most up-to-date Cygnus, which was launched in November 2022 and is about to undock and be deorbited later this month, was named the S.S. Sally Ride (opens in new tab) after the primary American girl to fly into space.