It was April 11, 1941, eight months before the U.S. entered the conflict that would redefine the word "war."

Vice Adm. Olaf Hustvedt and his wife, Irene, were in Brooklyn to commission a new battleship, the North Carolina. Just before the admiral took aim with his speech and his bottle of champaigne, a phone call came from Long Beach, Calif.

It was another boy for Virginia Hustvedt Hauck and her husband, Philip, a Navy captain. A brother for their first son, Roger. And who knew? Perhaps a third-generation Nayal officer.

That is exactly the way it has worked out Frederick Hamilton Hauck flirted with mathematics and studied nuclear and plasma physics. But for 13 years, he has been a Navy officer. "And now, I get to take a whole Navy family into space by proxy," he said.

Rick Hauck has had his eye on an astronaut's job since 1964, shortly after Alan Shepard became the first American in space.

"I was still in college then, but I wrote a letter to NASA," Hauck said. "I was highly motivated. I suggested, perhaps naively, that they tailor their education requirements and take applicants through whatever flight training was required. In other words, pick first and train all the way through."

And what happened? "They said, 'Don't call us, we'll call you.'"

But Hauck kept his eye on the same spot it had been on in 1964. He pursued a career as a fighter pilot and nuclear engineer, mindful that both fields would keep him in the running. He was one of the earliest applicants for the space shuttle. "I never considered that I would fail," he says now.

The same confidence and tenacity were evident when Hauck was a child. His grandmother, Irene Hustvedt, remembers a next-door neighbor commenting on nine-year-old Rick: "This boy is going far. He looks at you. He pays attention."

"He was a very easy boy to get along with," his grandmother recalled, as she and her husband, nearing their 66th wedding anniversary, sat among scores of Navy mementoes in their living room at 3525 Ordway St. NW.

"There was never any antagonism. Even as a young boy, he took over very nicely."

Rick Hauck spent three different stretches on Ordway Street, as his parents moved from one duty station to another.

He first came here as a one-year-old and stayed for only 16 months. He next came from 1950 to 1952, when he attended John Eaton Elementary School and played baseball with his brother by the hour in the middle of Ordway Street. His third tour was from 1955 to 1958, his last three years in high school.

Hauck spent the last two of those at St. Albans. The school was, in those days, all-white, all-male and all-prominent. Four of Hauck's schoolmates had U.S. senators for fathers. In his class, nine of the 26 graduates went on to Harvard.

St. Albanites remember Hauck as a quiet, no-nonsense young man who played creditably as a fullback and defensive end at football, who worked after school as a stockboy at Sullivan's Toy Store on Wisconsin Avenue, whose only "weakness" was for blues records.

"I was studious," Hauck said, "studious in that I wanted good grades."

He got them, too, largely as a result of the many weekends he spent studying at the Library of Congress. He graducated tenth in his class and earned a perfect score of 800 on a math achievement exam.

All during those days - days of flying model airplanes in a park at 34th and Macomb streets, of going to the Lincoln Memorial "for inspiration," of summering in Rehoboth, Del., "to look at the pretty girls" - Rick Hauck was aware of his grandfather's influence.

"He's been an inspiration to me," Hauck said in a telephone interview from Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, Wash., where he is second in command of the 145th Tactical Squadron, a fighter wing.

"I think that he molded his life on service to other people. Sometimes there are times I could improve my act, I think, especially when I think of him."

Adam. Hustvedt, now 92, was chief of staff of the Atlantic Fleet during World War II.

Hauck's father died in 1961 while on active duty at the Pentagon. His grandmother believes that his father's death may have nudged Hauck, then a senior at Tufts University and uncertain of his goals, toward a Navy career.

But Hauck began his service by going right back to academics. He studied scientific Russian at a military language school in California, then returned to the Boston area for a masters' degree in nuclear engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In the years since, Hauck has served as a destroyer officer, a test pilot and a fighter pilot. He flew 114 bombing missions in Vietnam in 1969 and 1970 and was a operations officer on an aircraft carrier in the South China Sea in 1975.

Once, during fighter pilot training over Chesapeake Bay, Hauck had to bail out of a plane whose engines mal-functioned."He told me he had no feeling of panic whatsover," his grandmother remembered. "He said he just did everything he was supposed to do." After that experience, Mrs. Hustvedt said, "the family isn't the slightest bit scared about him being in space."

Neither is Rick Hauck. "I feel great," he said."It's something I've wanted to do since Shepard.

"No. Since St. Albans."