The family of Mission Specialist David Brown didn't attend any of the big public ceremonies marking the 10th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Columbia tragedy. Instead, his brother Doug and his mother Dorothy gathered privately at his gravesite at Arlington National Cemetery to remember him.
Before he became an astronaut, Brown, of Fairfax, Va., had done so much more. He was a doctor, Navy flight surgeon of the year, an A-6 and F-18 pilot with two sets of wings and an aspiring filmmaker.
"He always looked at life as the next great challenge," Doug Brown says about his brother. "He never looked for money. He never looked at NASA as the last thing he would do."
But as it turns out, it was the last thing he would do.
David Brown died on his first spaceflight along with six other astronauts on the shuttle Columbia. It disintegrated as it was reentering Earth's atmosphere, shattering into 83,000 pieces over Texas en route to what should have been a routine landing in Florida ten years ago.
"It's a moment you will never forget in your whole life," says Doug Brown.
He says his brother knew what he was getting into when he suited up for the flight.
"He said, ‘You know, firemen have dangerous jobs, and you never know if they'll come home at night, and it's the same with my job.'" Doug says. "He accepted the risk."
Rather than focusing on what went wrong with the mission, Doug Brown wants people to focus on what went right after those seven astronauts were put together for that mission -- a diverse group who became best friends about to take one last ride.
"When there is a common goal, it's amazing what can be accomplished," he says. "That group demonstrated that."
And had he lived long enough, Brown knows his brother would have left his mark on the world through his films.
"I'm pretty sure he would have been on TV somewhere if we could have given him a few more years," says Doug. "We admire him so much for always moving forward, learning more. That's would be the legacy for David."
David Brown was 46 years old when he died.
WTTG FOX 5 & myfoxdc
Didn't find what you were looking for?