Michael J. Smith
Born April 30, 1945 in Beaufort, North Carolina. Michael J. Smith received a bachelor’s degree in Naval Science from the U. S. Naval Academy and a master’s degree in aeronautical engineering from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School. Smith and his wife, Jane Jarrell Smith, have three children, Scott, Allison and Erin.
Michael J. Smith served in Vietnam as a pilot in an attack squadron aboard the U.S.S. Kitty Hawk. Subsequently he became a Navy test pilot and was selected as an astronaut in 1980.
Captain Smith served as the pilot of space shuttle Challenger STS 51-L, which broke apart one minute and 13 seconds after its launch.
He was promoted posthumously to the rank of Navy Captain and had a chair named in his honor at the U.S. Navy Postgraduate School.
Michael J. Smith made the ultimate sacrifice and lost his life in service to the nation and the space program on January 28, 1986 at 40 years of age.