Former NASA astronaut and test pilot Fullerton dies at 76

Aug. 22, 2013 at 3:18 PM
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LANCASTER, Calif., Aug. 22 (UPI) -- C. Gordon Fullerton, who in a 50-year-career served as a NASA astronaut, research pilot and Air Force test pilot, has died in California, NASA said. He was 76.

Fullerton died Wednesday at a facility in Lancaster, Calif., where he had been receiving care since a suffering a severe stroke in 2009, the space agency said.

Fullerton took part in two space shuttle missions while serving in the NASA astronaut corps from September 1969 until November 1986, and then joined NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., where he served for 22 years as a research test pilot on a variety of high-profile projects.

During the latter years of his career at NASA Dryden, he served as associate director of flight operations.

A native of Portland, Ore., Fullerton earned degrees in mechanical engineering at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif., and after working briefly for Hughes Aircraft Co. he entered the U.S. Air Force in July 1958. He attended the Air Force Aerospace Research Pilot School (now the Air Force Test Pilot School), at Edwards in 1964.

The Air Force assigned Fullerton to NASA's astronaut corps at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston in 1999. He was the pilot of a space shuttle orbital mission in 1982 and commander of an 8-day shuttle science mission in 1985.

Fullerton was inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame in 2005, and the International Space Hall of Fame in 1982.

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