Gordon Fullerton

Gordon Fullerton is a retired United States Air Force officer and a former NASA astronaut. He was born Charles Gordon Fullerton on October 11, 1936 in Rochester, New York. Fullerton graduated from U.S. Grant High School in Portland, Oregon and went on to further his education at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California, where he earned Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Mechanical Engineering. Soon after, Fullerton entered the U.S. Air Force and completed basic flight school. He was also trained as an F-86 interceptor pilot and a B-47 bomber pilot, and then was chosen to attend the Air Force Aerospace Research Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base in California. Following graduation, he was chosen to work as a test pilot at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base with the Bomber Operations Division. From 1966-1969, Fullerton worked as a flight crew member for the Air Force Manned Orbiting Laboratory program.

In September 1969, Fullerton was selected as a NASA astronaut and reported to the Johnson Space Center. He was a part of the support crew for the Apollo 14, 15, 16 and 17 lunar missions and a part of the Approach and Landing Tests Program of Space Shuttle Enterprise. In1982 he piloted STS-3 aboard Space Shuttle Columbia. The orbital flight test mission launched from the Kennedy Space Center on March 22. The crew successfully tested the Remote Manipulator System used to grasp and maneuver payloads to orbit. STS-3 was scheduled to land at Edwards Air Force Base; however, bad weather forced the crew to land at Northrup Strip in White Sands, New Mexico on March 30, 1982. That same year he was inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame. Three years later, on July 29, 1985, Fullerton was launched back into space aboard Space Shuttle Challenger as commander of the STS-51-F Spacelab 2 mission. It was the first pallet-only Spacelab mission as well as the first to run the Spacelab Instrument Pointing System. After multiple astronomy experiments, the mission ended on August 6, 1985.

In November 1986, Fullerton retired as an astronaut to work in the research pilot office at Dryden. He has since worked as a project pilot on the NASA/Convair 990 aircraft, the F-18 Systems Research Aircraft, and various other research programs at Dryden. In July 1988, after 30 years of service, he retired from the U.S. Air Force as a Colonel. He has been honored with the Iven C. Kincheloe Award from the Society of Experimental Test Pilots, Department of Defense Distinguished Service and Superior Service Medal, Distinguished Flying Cross, NASA Distinguished Service Medal, NASA Exceptional Service Medal, NASA Space Flight Medals, General Thomas D. White Space Trophy, and Haley Space Flight Award from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Fullerton lives in Lancaster, California and is married with two children. He is still recovering from a stroke he had on December 31, 2009.

Image Caption: Gordon Fullerton. Credit: NASA/Wikipedia