Iowa History Daily: On March 10, 1961, Laurel B. Clark, Lieutenant Commander USN and Astronaut, was born in Ames, Iowa. Clark perished in 2003 when the Space Shuttle Columbia broke up upon reentry into Earth’s atmosphere, all seven astronauts aboard died in the disaster.
A graduate of William Horlick High School in Racine, Wisconsin, Clark went on to study zoology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In 1987 she received her Doctorate of Medicine, while also working with the United States Navy Experimental Diving Unit. After additional training, Clark became the Medical Head for Submarine Squadron 14 and also worked with the prestigious Naval Special Warfare Unit 2 SEALs. Her expertise allowed her to successfully aid in many medical evacuations of United States submarines
From the depths of the oceans, Clark transitioned to the skies when she became a Naval Flight Surgeon following training at the Naval Aerospace Medical Institute. After several deployments with Marine Attack Squadron 211 (VMA-211), Marine Airgroup 13 (MAG-13), and Training Squadron 86 (VT-86), Clark was selected by NASA in April 1996 to become an astronaut.
After two years of rigorous training, NASA assigned Clark for flight assignment as a mission specialist. Starting in July 1997, she worked in the Astronaut Office Payloads/Habitability Branch and flew aboard STS-107. Clark spent 15 days, 22 hours, and 21 minutes in space. As a part of the Columbia crew which completed over 80 experiments during their journey, Clark focused her work on bioscience and gardening in space during the mission. When the Columbia disaster occurred, Laurel Clark was just 42 years old. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar