Fact Check

Rick Husband

Shuttle astronaut Rick Husband was a man of religious faith.

Published Feb 24, 2007

Glurge:   Shuttle astronaut Rick Husband was a man of religious faith.

Example:   [Collected on the Internet, 2003]


Man of Faith - Man of Priorities

"I finally realized, and it became my desire, that I would be the best man that I possibly could for God, that I could be the best husband that I could for Evelyn, and be the best father that I could for my children, and to do everything I can to make sure that they know about Jesus and hope that they come to a point in their lives where they ask Jesus to be their Savior. And I thought if I could do that, and at the end of my life look back, that would be what really mattered to me, not whether or not I was an astronaut or anything else." — Rick Husband, Commander of Space Shuttle Columbia.

Right Priorities. Rick Husband's priorities ring out loud and clear: Jesus, spouse, children and job in that order. Not many of us can say our priorities have always been as biblical.

The above words were spoken at the First Presbyterian Church in Amarillo, Texas in 1999 after Husband had made his first shuttle flight to the International Space Station. He was explaining — to to how he had tried three times to realize his goal of becoming an astronaut and finally turned the whole thing over to God: "For a long time, I wanted to (be an astronaut) for all the wrong reasons. I wanted to do it for selfish reasons — like I thought that would be a neat thing to do . . . Several years ago, God brought me to a point in my life where I was able to give that up and realize what my desires really were." Then, on his fourth try he was accepted — on God's terms. Submission to God is the most important, and perhaps most difficult thing about following Christ.

Though Rick had planned to become an astronaut from the age of 4, and had tremendous drive to accomplish everything he set out to do, it took him four tries to become accepted by NASA. Then he turned it all over to God and let Him take over.

Jesus First. He and fellow Columbia crewman Michael Anderson were currently members of Grace Community Church in Clear Lake near Houston. Their pastor says both men were strong, born again believers and there is no doubt as to where they are today. The pastor also said that Husband had hoped to lead Israeli crewman Ilan Ramon (a non-religious Jew) to the Lord. We'll never know the outcome of that this side of heaven. Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. — 1 Thessalonians 4:13-15 NIV.

Concerning the Space Shuttle in context of God's Creation, Rick made these comments in 1999 at First Presbyterian in Amarillo, "The space shuttle is by far the most complex machine in the world. When you think about all the thousands of people it took to sit down and design this machine — the main engines, auxiliary power units, the hydraulics, the flight control systems, the reaction-control jets, the solid rocket boosters, the external tank that fuels the main engines, the crew compartment with all the controls and how we control the vehicle, and all of the time that was spent to put this thing together and make it work - it's to me, inconceivable that you could take a look at the universe and think that it just all happened by accident.

There is no doubt in my mind that God had a very specific and complex plan that He put into work when He created the universe. And inside the vehicle (are) seven astronauts, each one of which is more complex than this vehicle we went up in. And God is an awesome God."

Spouse Second. Neighbors of the Husbands in Amarillo have all said what a family man Rick was. His former neighbor Bob Batchelor says, "We saw what kind of father he was, what kind of husband he was. With as busy a schedule as he had, he never neglected them. The time he spent with them was top-quality time." Presbyterian pastor Dr. James R. Carroll — who married them — said, "Rick and Evelyn were very devoted Christians and lived their faith . . . I did some counseling and found them to be well-suited for each other and very much in love and committed to each other." When it was announced he would be on the 1999 Shuttle flight, Rick said, "My wife Evelyn has supported me in this endeavor since we first met in 1977."

Children Third. "It's something that I wish I had learned a lot earlier, but I'm certainly glad I learned it when I did . . . because on this (1999 Shuttle) mission, it was a fantastic trip and amazing experience. But when I think of the times when I've gotten to tuck my daughter in at night and sing to her and have her ask me questions about things that she's thinking about, or when our little 3 year old son runs in completely naked to give me a kiss after his bath, I think I wouldn't trade any of those things for a ride in space because it wouldn't be worth it." — Rick Husband, August 1999.

Job Fourth. Elementary and high school classmate Justin Stiff says, "He was excellent in everything he did." Former neighbor Batchelor says, "He loved what he was doing. He was just totally professional, and he had the brain on him and the body that they have to have to stand the training. He was just a total professional. I can't think of anybody that would know more about what he was doing today than he would."

Rick loved to sing and was good at it. He sang solos at weddings and funerals and he sang in the choir. He said, "It also give you a feeling of almost release, in my particular case, because, I'd say, very relaxing. And then, especially with some of the songs that we sing in church, just being able to sing a song to tell God how much I love Him, it just feels great."

THE GOOD NEWS: Today Rick Husband, and countless others through the ages, has gone to be in that heavenly choir that fulfills the prophecy of John's Revelation: Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!" (Revelation 5:13) This life is only a short prelude to heaven. What song is your life singing?

Origins:   Astronaut Rick Husband of Amarillo, Texas, was, in the words of Newsday's Hugo Kugiya, "a child of the space age, enraptured by the stories of Mercury, Gemini and Apollo, whose astronauts

Rick Husband

might as well have been gods" to him. After achieving his childhood dream when he flew his on first
shuttle mission in 1999, Husband told a writer from his college alumni magazine: "I first started thinking about becoming an astronaut when I was about four years old. It really captured my imagination . . ."

Rick Husband earned a degree in mechanical engineering from Texas Tech, all the while training as a pilot through his college's ROTC program. Upon his graduation in 1980, Husband entered the Air Force and flew fighter jets for six years, then began training as a test pilot at Edwards Air Force Base in California while simultaneously pursuing a master's degree in mechanical engineering from Fresno State. As he logged nearly 4,000 hours of flight time, flew dozens of different aircraft, and worked his way up to the rank of colonel, Husband was turned down for a slot as an astronaut candidate three times by NASA. His persistence paid off, however, and Husband was finally selected by NASA as an astronaut candidate in December 1994; his training and experience eventually landed him a spot as a pilot for a 10-day Space Shuttle mission in 1999, during which Discovery became the first shuttle to dock with the fledgling International Space


Tragically, Rick Husband's second assignment as a shuttle pilot was the 16-day Columbia mission which ended in disaster on 1 February 2003 when (for reasons as yet undetermined) the craft broke apart upon re-entry through the Earth's atmosphere, killing all seven astronauts aboard. The piece quoted above began to circulate widely in the days immediately following Husband's death, and there isn't much for us to add to or "verify" about it — that Rick Husband was a religious man who spoke publicly about his religious faith and beliefs and the impact they had on his life is indisputable, and the quotes given above match contemporary news accounts of his public speaking appearances. For example, the Amarillo Globe-News reported the following in 1999:

Lt. Col. Rick Husband, pilot of Space Shuttle Mission STS-96, returned home to Amarillo Sunday and to the church where he marked several milestones in his life.

Husband is a 1975 Amarillo High School graduate. He married his college sweetheart, Evelyn, in the First Presbyterian Church in Amarillo, and their daughter was baptized at the church.

Husband shared photographs of his historic space mission with members of the First Presbyterian Church, but his speech focused on his relationship with God.

"I've wanted to be an astronaut all of my life," Husband said. "For a long time, I wanted to do that for selfish reasons. God brought me to a point in my life where that changed."

Husband described the challenges he faced as he worked toward becoming an astronaut.

After applying - and being turned down three times - to the space program, Husband said he put his complete trust in God.

"It was a real defining moment for me when I finally learned what it meant to trust God," Husband said.

His dream seemed to be slipping away one more time, when Husband failed an eye exam during his weeklong interview.

When the exam was rescheduled, Husband's wife, church and friends began to pray, he said.

Husband passed the second eye exam and learned several months later that he would be an astronaut.

Husband was the first shuttle pilot to dock with the International Space Station, which now includes the U.S.-built node, Unity, and the Russian-built functional cargo node, Zarya, according to a NASA news release. The crew transferred about 10,000 pounds of equipment to the ISS interior and installed two cranes on the ISS exterior during a space walk.

"It was the most fantastic journey of my entire life," Husband said. "It's an experience I won't forget soon and that I hope to repeat in the not-too-distant future."

Godspeed, Rick.

Additional information:

    Rick Husband, Mike Anderson 'Fervently Lived for God'   Rick Husband, Mike Anderson 'Fervently Lived for God'   (Christian Times)

Last updated:   25 February 2007


  Sources Sources:

    Chien, Philip.   "Husband Amazed by Rocket Engine's Power."

    Amarillo Globe-News.   19 August 1999.

    Kugiya, Hugo.   "Rick Husband."

    Newsday.   1 February 2003.

    Snyder, Carmel.   "Space Shuttle Pilot Talks of Faith at Church Service."

    Amarillo Globe-News.   2 August 1999.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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