David M. Brown Collection
Portions of this collection are digitized

Collection ID:
Brown, David M.
bulk 1980-2002
This collection contains materials in
Physical Description:
11.76 Cubic feet
33 boxes
The David M. Brown Papers consist of almost twelve cubic feet of archival material documenting his career as a U.S. Navy flight surgeon, naval aviator, and NASA astronaut. It includes Brown's diaries, manuals, checklists, certificates, workbooks, notebooks, and related training materials.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The David M. Brown Papers reflect Brown's career as a U.S. Navy flight surgeon, naval aviator, and NASA astronaut. Represented in some of the collection's correspondence, memoranda, and other materials is his early interest in becoming an astronaut, his applying to NASA, and his selection by the space agency as an astronaut candidate. Most of this collection consists of materials related to his professional work. A large part of this series is composed of technical manuals, handbooks and checklists. Also included in this grouping are official U.S. Navy/NASA documents, correspondence, memoranda, drafts, worksheets, reports, handouts, briefings, notes, photographs, invitations, programs, pamphlets, books, booklets, guidebooks, magazines, journals, and miscellaneous materials. The rest of the collection contains a small amount of personal materials. This includes personal documents from Brown (birth certificate, passports, etc.), correspondence, day planners, yearbooks, photographs, and miscellaneous materials.

The Brown Papers are organized into two broad series. First, is the material pertaining to Brown's personal life. This includes personal documents, correspondence, day planners, yearbooks and photographs. The second series contains papers revolving around Brown's professional life. This includes official U.S. Navy/NASA documents, correspondence, memoranda, notes, drafts, reports, handouts, briefings, a variety of manuals, checklists, handbooks, procedures and instructions, notebooks, photographs, invitations, programs, pamphlets, books, guidebooks, magazines, journals, and miscellaneous materials. Brown's papers are arranged both chronologically and alphabetically. Official and personal documents, correspondence, memoranda, notes, drafts, worksheets, photographs, invitations, programs, pamphlets, magazines, journals, day planners, yearbooks and miscellaneous materials are organized by the former method. Reports, handouts, briefings, manuals, handbooks, checklists, procedures, instructions, books, booklets, and guidebooks are arranged alphabetically by title. The reader will note that the parts of this finding aid containing manuals, handbooks, checklists, procedures, and instructions are further organized into the following groupings: NASA only, corporation/contractor only, jointly-issued NASA and corporation/contractor, and miscellaneous.
The reader should note that this group of material also contains a collection of films pertaining to Brown's life and career as an astronaut. A National Air and Space Museum (NASM) Archives staff person can assist you regarding access to these films.
    SERIES I -- Personal Papers
  • Personal Documents
  • Correspondence
  • Day Planners
  • Yearbooks
  • Photographs
  • Miscellaneous Materials
    SERIES II -- Professional Papers
  • Official U.S. Navy/NASA Documents
  • Correspondence
  • Memoranda
  • Notes, Drafts, and Worksheets
  • Reports, Handouts, and Briefings
  • Manuals, Handbooks, Checklists, Procedures, and Instructions
  • Notebooks and Workbooks
  • Photographs
  • Invitations, Programs, and Pamphlets
  • Books
  • Booklets and Guidebooks
  • Magazines and Journals
  • Newsletters
  • News Clippings
  • Miscellaneous Materials
  • Oversized Materials

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
David M. Brown was a U.S. Navy officer, flight surgeon, naval aviator, and Space Shuttle astronaut. Born in Arlington, Virginia, on April 16, 1956, Brown earned a B.S. in biology from the College of William and Mary in 1978 and a doctorate in medicine from Eastern Virginia Medical School in 1982. During his years in college, he performed in the Circus Kingdom as an unicyclist, stilt walker, and acrobat. Upon completing an internship at the Medical University of South Carolina, Brown joined the Navy and finished his flight surgeon training in 1984. After a stint as director of medical services at the Navy Branch Hospital in Adak, Alaska, he was then assigned to Carrier Airwing Fifteen which deployed aboard the USS Carl Vinson in the western section of the Pacific Ocean. In 1988, Brown was selected for pilot training, the only flight surgeon chosen for this program in over ten years. Two years later, he was designated a naval aviator and ranked first in his class. Subsequently, Brown was sent for training and carrier qualification in the Grumman A-6E Intruder. In 1991, he was attached to the Naval Strike Warfare Center in Fallon, Nevada, where he served as a Strike Leader Attack Training Syllabus Instructor and a Contingency Cell Planning Officer. The following year, he was sent to serve aboard the USS Independence, flying the A-6E with squadron VA-115. In 1995, he reported to the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School as their flight surgeon. By this time, Brown was qualified in a variety of military aircraft, including the McDonnell Douglas F-18 Hornet and the Northrop T-38 Talon. All told, Brown accumulated over 2,700 hours with 1,700 in high performance military aircraft.
For a long time, Brown harbored a strong desire to become an astronaut. During the mid 1990s, he applied for admission into the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) astronaut corps. In April 1996, Brown was selected as an astronaut candidate by the space agency and reported to the Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, Texas, later that year. By 1998, he completed his training and evaluation, and was qualified for flight assignment as a mission specialist. Initially, Brown was given the task of supporting payload development for the International Space Station (ISS), followed by an assignment on the astronaut support team responsible for Space Shuttle cockpit setup, crew strap-in, and landing recovery. Eventually, he was assigned a flight aboard Space Shuttle Columbia for the STS-107 mission. Columbia was launched from the Kennedy Space center (KSC) on January 16, 2003. This 16-day flight was dedicated to scientific research while in Earth orbit. On February 1, after the successful in-space mission and only minutes from its scheduled landing at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Cape Canaveral, Florida, the orbiter suffered structural failure upon reentry into the atmosphere and disintegrated over Texas and Louisiana. Brown, as well as the other six members of the STS-107 crew, was killed in the accident. Brown logged 15 days, 22 hours and 20 minutes of space flight experience.
The following chronology covers key events in Brown's life, as well as in the realm of space exploration history. Events involving Brown are shown in normal type while those of the latter are shown in bold type.
1956 April 16
Brown born in Arlington, Virginia
1957 October 4
Russia's successful launch of first artificial satellite,Sputnik 1
1958 January 31
Successful launch of first U.S. artificial satellite,Explorer 1
1961 April 12
Russia's successful launch of first human into space, Yuri Gagarin aboardVostok 1
1961 May 5
Successful launch of first U.S. astronaut into space, Alan Shepard aboard Mercury-Redstone 3 (Freedom 7)
1969 July 16-24
Flight ofApollo 11succeeds in landing U.S. astronauts on the moon
The Nixon administration approves the Space Shuttle as a national program
Brown graduates from Yorktown High School, Yorktown, Virginia
1977 August-October
Series of five Approach and Landing Tests (within the atmosphere) of Space ShuttleEnterprise
Brown graduates from William and Mary College with a B.S. in biology
1981 April 12
First launch into earth orbit for the Space Shuttle program byColumbia(STS-1)
Brown graduates from Eastern Virginia Medical School with a doctorate in Medicine (M.D.)
Brown completes his U.S. Navy flight surgeon training
1986 January 28
Space ShuttleChallenger(STS-51-L) explodes shortly after launch, killing all on board
Brown is selected by the U.S. Navy for pilot training
1988 September 29
Return to flight of the Space Shuttle program byDiscovery(STS-26)
Brown is designated as a naval aviator and ranks first in his class
1990 April 24
Launch of Space ShuttleDiscovery(STS-31) with Hubble Space Telescope (HST) as payload
Brown is attached to the Naval Strike Warfare Center in Fallon, Nevada
Brown serves aboard aircraft carrier USS Independence and pilots the Grumman A-6E Intruder aircraft with VA-115
Brown reports to U.S. Naval Test Pilot School as the flight surgeon
1996 April
Brown is selected by NASA as an astronaut candidate (ASCAN)
Brown successfully completes his astronaut training and evaluation
1998 October 29
Launch of Space ShuttleDiscovery(STS-95) with astronaut John Glenn returning to space after his first orbital flight aboardFriendship 7in 1962
2003 January 16
Launch of Brown and the crew of Space Shuttle Columbia (STS-107)
2003 February 1
STS-107 disintegrates over Texas and Louisiana shortly before scheduled landing at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Florida, with the loss of Brown and the crew

Processing Information
Arranged and described by Mark Kahn, 2006.
Encoded by Amanda Buel, 2014.
Mark Kahn
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Paul and Dorothy Brown, Gift, 2006

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Use
Material is subject to Smithsonian Terms of Use. Should you wish to use NASM material in any medium, please submit an Application for Permission to Reproduce NASM Material, available at Permissions Requests.
Conditions Governing Access
No restrictions on access.
Preferred Citation
David M. Brown Papers, Acc. 2006-0013, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.

Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Space flight Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Astronautics Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
National Air and Space Museum Archives
14390 Air & Space Museum Parkway
Chantilly, VA 20151