William Cameron McCool

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William C. McCool
William C. McCool
Country: United States
Organization: NASA
selected on May 1, 1996
(16th NASA Group)
Calls: 1 space flight
Begin: January 16, 2003
Landing: February 1, 2003
Time in space: 15d 22h 20min
retired on February 1, 2003
Space flights

William Cameron "Willie" McCool (born September 23, 1961 in San Diego , California , USA ; † February 1, 2003 over the southern United States) was an American astronaut .


As the child of members of the US military, McCool moved frequently in his youth and lived in Urbana, Illinois , Duluth, Minnesota, and two years in Guam , where he met his future wife. Thanks to his high level of intelligence and his great willingness to learn, the frequent changes to school did not cause him any difficulties. Starting in 1977, the family lived in Lubbock ( Texas ), where Willie the Coronado High School attended and 1979 made the statements. He entered the US Navy and studied at the United States Naval Academy in Maryland . He received his bachelor's degree in applied natural sciences in 1983 as the second best in his class - out of 1083 graduates. This was followed by a degree in computer science at the University of Maryland , which he completed after four semesters with a master's degree .

McCool at the wheel of a tractor at the age of about twelve

McCool was trained in Texas for Navy pilots and 1986 to a unit of Whidbey Iceland ( Washington added). There he was trained on the EA-6B "Prowler" , an aircraft specially built for electronic warfare .

After two Mediterranean missions on board the aircraft carrier "USS Coral Sea", he took part in a training program for student test pilots in which the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) in Monterey, California and the United States Naval Test Pilot School (USNTPS) at the US East coast involved. From autumn 1989 McCool studied aeronautical engineering at the NPS. He also completed a test pilot seminar at the USNTPS, which is located in Maryland on Naval Air Station Patuxent River. In the summer of 1992 he was awarded a Masters by the NPS and the USNTPS was awarded the Test Pilot Certificate with Distinction.

McCool then stayed on the Patuxent River base and worked at the Strike Aircraft Test Directorate as a test pilot for machines of the types TA-4J "Skyhawk" and EA-6B. He later returned to his old base on Whidbey Island and served with a "Prowler" squadron on the " USS Enterprise ". Overall, McCool could refer to a flight experience of over 2800 hours on 24 types of aircraft and more than 400 landings on aircraft carriers.

Astronaut activity

McCool was on a mission with the aircraft carrier when NASA selected him for the 16th astronaut group in 1996. He was one of a total of 2432 candidates who met the formal selection criteria. This resulted in 123 finalists who visited the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas , between October 1995 and February 1996 for job interviews and medical examinations. McCool had already made it into the final round of the 15th astronaut group, but was not selected.

Basic training began in autumn 1996 and lasted two years. Originally, he was responsible for the IT support arm, then as a technical assistant to the director of flight crew operations. McCool then took on tasks in the area of ​​the cockpit upgrade in the astronauts office, where he worked out suggestions for improving the pilot's consoles.

McCool aboard the Columbia

In autumn 2000 he was assigned to his only space flight. Delays in the shuttle program meant that the STS-107 mission could not begin until mid-January 2003. Scientific research was carried out on board for two weeks. In the Spacehab module, the astronauts carried out over 80 experiments that ran around the clock. For this reason the team worked in two shifts. McCool led the Blue Team, which also included mission specialists Brown and Anderson. The other four crew members made up the red team. The space shuttle broke during the return, just 16 minutes before the scheduled landing. All astronauts aboard the Columbia were killed.

McCool left behind his wife and three sons. The remains of his body were interred in Washington State. His tombstone is, however, in the "North Prairie" cemetery in Washington County (Illinois) , where his great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents (who emigrated from Unterlübbe to the USA around 1850 ) are buried.


McCool received the following awards, among others:

In addition, in memory of William McCool, the asteroid (51829) Williemccool , an elevation on Mars (McCool Hill), a small crater on the moon, a school in the village of Santa Rita on Guam (William C. McCool Elementary / Middle School ), the sports field of his high school in Lubbock (Willie McCool Track and Field), where a larger than life statue of McCool was erected, as well as various other gyms and computer labs in other schools posthumously named after the astronaut.

See also

Web links

Commons : William McCool  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files