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Astronaut Rick Husband’s integrity seen in crucial eye exam decision

HOUSTON (BP)–Shuttle commander Rick Husband’s remarkable faith and character have been highlighted in many news reports since the Columbia space shuttle broke apart in its return to earth following a 16-day mission Feb. 1, and more accounts of both traits continue to surface.

Husband failed on his first three tries to become an astronaut because his 20/50 left eye kept him from passing the crucial eye exam, according The Washington Post Feb. 5. In 1992, on his third application, he took a friend’s advice and got hard contact lenses to improve his performance on the eye exam. But, The Post reported, on a NASA questionnaire he answered no when asked if he had ever worn them. He did not want to become an astronaut through a lie.

“If I had not gone about that in the right way, if I had sacrificed my relationship to Jesus or my relationship with my family, and looked back at my life, being an astronaut wouldn’t really matter much at all,” Husband said.

On his fourth application, his wife, Evelyn, fasted and initiated the help of a prayer chain at their Houston-area church. Husband passed the eye exam without contacts and was on his way to fulfilling his lifelong dream of becoming an astronaut.

As The Post reported, being an astronaut “was not the absolute culmination of everything there is to life on earth,” he told the packed sanctuary of First Presbyterian Church in his hometown of Amarillo, Texas. “As exciting as a ride on the space shuttle may seem, I have to say that’s not as important as my relationship with Jesus. If it came to a point where I had to choose one or the other, I’d give up the shuttle ride in a minute.”

The Post article was headlined, “Commander With the Righteous Stuff … Wearing His Texas Roots and Spirituality Proudly, Astronaut Was Antithesis of NASA’s Space Cowboys.” The newspaper described Husband as “drawn to NASA not for the showboat thrills of rocketing through space but for the humbling divinity of soaring through the heavens.”

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