Michael J. Smith

Michael Smith

Michael John Smith, a Captain in the United States Navy, was born on April 30, 1945 in Beaufort, North Carolina. He enjoyed woodworking, running, tennis, and squash. He was assigned as Pilot for STS 61-N scheduled for launch in the Fall of 1986.

Smith and his crewmates, Dick Scobee, Ron McNair, El Onizuka, Judy Resnik, Greg Jarvis, and Christa McAuliffe, died on January 28, 1986 when the space shuttle Challenger broke apart shortly after liftoff from the Kennedy Space Center.

NASA Biography

Space Flights:

  • Pilot, STS-51L, Challenger, January 28, 1986

Total Hours in Space: 0

Astronaut Group: 9-May 29, 1980

Degrees: BS, Naval Science, US Naval Academy, 1967, MS, Aeronautical Engineering, US Naval Postgraduate School, 1968.

Military Service & Awards: Served in Vietnam. Awarded the Defense Distinguished Service Medal (posthumous), Navy Distinguished Flying Cross, 3 Air Medals, 13 Strike Flight Air Medals, the Navy Commendation Medal with “V”, the Navy Unit Citation, and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Silver Star.

STS 51-L Crew members. Front row: Michael Smith, Dick Scobee and Ron McNair.
Back row: El Onizuka, Christa McAuliffe, Greg Jarvis and Judy Resnik.

Interred at Arlington National Cemetery: May 3, 1986

Section: 7A
Grave: 208 1
Grid: TU-24

How to locate: From the visitor’s center follow the signs to the Tomb of the Unknowns. Section 7A is a small area to the left of the sidewalk very close to the Tomb of the Unknowns. Walk up the sidewalk, keeping the section to your left. The gravesite is the last location at the back of the section, easily visible from the sidewalk.