Marylanders' Stellar Achievement

March 03, 1995

More than 180 years ago, Francis Scott Key watched the bombardment of Fort McHenry and described the "rockets red glare." Yesterday, a different kind of rocket illuminated the skies over Cape Canaveral when the space shuttle Endeavour blasted off to become America's 99th human-piloted space mission.

It was another historic moment for Maryland.

Four of the shuttle's seven crew members have ties to the Free State. Cmdr. Stephen S. Oswald is a 1973 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and a former test pilot at the Patuxent River Naval Air Test Center. Flight Engineer Wendy B. Lawrence is also a graduate of the Naval Academy and is the daughter of Vice Adm. William P. Lawrence, a Crownsville resident and a former superintendent of the academy.

The mission's two payload specialists, Dr. Ronald A. Parise and Dr. Samuel T. Durrance, are Marylanders. Dr. Parise lives in Silver Spring where he is a senior scientist at Computer Sciences Corp. Dr. Durrance lives in Lutherville and is a researcher in the physics and astronomy department at Johns Hopkins University.

Marylanders on the ground also will be involved in the mission. Hopkins physics professor Dr. Arthur F. Davidsen is the principal investigator for one of the three ultraviolet telescopes that will be aboard the Endeavour. Another one of the telescopes was developed by the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt.

The Endeavour's $445-million mission is scheduled to last 16 days -- longer than any of the previous 67 shuttle flights. The crew will be sleuths investigating the mystery of how the universe was created. Monitoring three ultraviolet telescopes 24 hours a day, the scientists will collect data on hundreds of objects, ranging from the moon and planets to distant galaxies and quasars. They especially hope to detect and measure an intergalactic gas that scientists believe accounts for most of the dark matter in the universe.

Maryland's role in the country's space program is not new. The Naval Academy in Annapolis is the largest single supplier of astronauts. The Goddard Space Flight Center and the Space Telescope Science Institute on the campus of Johns Hopkins University oversee the operations of the Hubble Space Telescope.

With four current and former residents flying on this latest mission, Maryland can celebrate another star-spangled achievement.

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