Astronaut Frederick Hauck's mother is Virginia Hustvedt Hauck. Her name was incorrectly reported in Tuesday's Style section.
Frederick H. Hauck, who is circling Earth every 90 minutes as the pilot of the space shuttle Challenger, is no stranger to motion.
"Rick's father was a naval officer and he moved around a lot," his mother, Barbara Hauck, recalled today. "I once calculated that I moved 50 times until my husband died. But home was always Washington."
Hauck's one close call with death actually came quite close to home: one day while he was piloting an A5, the jet caught fire, and Hauck ejected himself into the Chesapeake Bay. But the rest of his career has largely been devoid of the kinds of horror-evoking experiences that most people think of as the daily business of the test pilot.
"I worried when he was in Vietnam," where he flew 114 attack missions over Laos, his wife, Dolly, said.
"And occasionally there'd be times when he'd be late getting home and I'd think, 'Oh, no,' but it really hasn't been a troublesome career. At the launch on Saturday I felt no fear, none whatsoever. That was never a part of what we've been through, although I will say watching my husband ride into space was the most emotional thing I've ever experienced. Last night I opened the sun roof on our Audi and looked up at the stars, and I just couldn't believe he was up there."
Rick Hauck was born on April 11, 1941, in Long Beach, Calif., two days after the commissioning of the battleship North Carolina, which was commanded by his maternal grandfather, Admiral Olaf Hustvedt.
"His grandfather was in the Navy, his father was in the Navy, and he was interested in the Navy from the time he was a little boy," his mother said. "He had a very normal childhood. He loved sports. He used to follow baseball teams. He played a little football at St. Albans. Because we moved around a lot, he always had new sets of friends and made friends very easily. He has an older brother and a younger sister, and in some ways he always seemed less serious than either of them. When the war came, we moved back to Washington and lived in my parents' house on Ordway Street. His grandmother still lives there. Rick went to high school at St. Albans. He was very good about accepting responsibility. When he was 16, he had a summer job working at Rodger's Toy Shop on Wisconsin Avenue. It's now called Sullivan's. The owner and his wife went away for vacation and left him in charge for two weeks."
Hauck graduated from St. Albans in 1958 and attended Tufts University, where he earned a B.S. in physics and met Dolly Bowman, who would become his wife.
"I had lived in the same house in Kensington since I was 3 years old," Dolly Hauck said, "and one day at Tufts someone said to me, 'You have to meet this guy who also lives in Washington.' I was a little surprised I had never met him, because I went to Sidwell Friends, just a few blocks away from St. Albans. Rick was in ROTC in college. I didn't think he really wanted to be an officer, but he had a certain amount of interest in flying. Maybe it's just because you can get places fast--he hates being stuck in traffic in a car, although he loves cars period. He bought a 1951 Ford pickup and fixed that up, and now there's a '58 Corvette sitting in back of our house waiting to be worked on. Sometimes I call the place the Hauck junkyard.
"Rick's idea of the dream house is a three-car garage and no lawn. But he's great around the house. He can fix anything. He always says if you have the right tool, you don't have a problem. You know what we got for our 20th anniversary? An air compressor! Rick wants to buy a personal computer now. He says he'll put the family budget on it, and I don't want that."
In 1966, Hauck received an M.S. in nuclear engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, two years after he had attended the U.S. Naval post-graduate school in Monterey, Calif. It was in Monterey that he first became interested in becoming an astronaut.
"He wrote to NASA about the program," his wife said, "and they wrote back and said, 'Don't call us, we'll call you.' He was incredibly envious when Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon. He would have loved to have done that. He was contacted sometime between 1974 and 1976 when we were in San Diego and told that they were accepting new candidates for the program. At the time I thought it was ridiculous. People like John Glenn and Alan Shepard weren't real people. They were supermen and you don't think of your husband as a superman."
Hauck was accepted as an astronaut candidate in January 1978, and completed his training in August 1979. Until being assigned to the crew of STS7, he was involved in preparations for landing the shuttle at night, partly because of his previous work in testing the F14 for night carrier landing suitability.
"One of the reasons Rick wanted to go in the astronaut program," said Dolly Hauck, "was so he could fly until he dropped dead. I think his major impression of all this is how lucky he is. Where else could he fly all the time and go into space and get paid for it? They'd all do it for free! I'd have to say flying is his principal interest. He used to be very involved in sailing, and he loves skiing. It's very much like flying, very addictive. He takes the most tremendous falls. And Rick loves to take pictures. He has this little Olympus, but I'd hardly call him a photographer."
Hauck hasn't been heard from much on this shuttle mission. On Sunday, however, it was he who radioed down to Houston "good wishes" to the gathered children of the crew members.
"We have a few fathers on board," Hauck added--four to be precise; Hauck has a son and a daughter.
"He's incredibly cool," said his mother, Barbara. "I expected to be incredibly nervous at the launch, and I found myself so calm and collected. And I figured it was something he had gotten from me."