Colonel Gordon Fullerton, USAF 1936-2013
Col. Fullerton is best known as Space Shuttle Challenger commander on the STS-51F Spacelab 2 mission in 1985, the highlight of his career as a NASA astronaut. As an astronaut he logged 383 hours of space flight.
Fullerton graduated from the USAF Aerospace Research Pilot School at Edwards in 1965, and he was a test pilot with Bomber Operations at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, until selected as a flight crew member for the USAF Manned Orbiting Laboratory. In 1969, he was assigned to the Johnson Space Center as an astronaut; he supported Apollo 14, 15, 16 and 17 lunar missions. He recalled strapping Alan Shepherd into his seat in Apollo 14 and thinking, "I could just jump right in and fly to the moon and back."
In 1977 he participated in the initial approach and landing tests of the Space Shuttle prototype Enterprise at Edwards and in 1982 he flew the Columbia on STS-3.
He has logged over 15,000 hours in 135 different aircraft, including the T-33, T-34, T-37, T-38, T-39, F-86, F-101, F-104, F-106, F-111, F-14, F-15, F/A-18, X-29, KC-135, C-140, B-47, B-52, CV-990, DC-8, MD-11, F-15 HIDEC and Boeing 747.
Fullerton was honored with the Society of Experimental Test Pilots' Iven C. Kincheloe Award and Ray E. Tenhoff Award; Department of Defense Distinguished and Superior Service Medals; Air Force Distinguished Flying Cross; NASA Distinguished and Exceptional Service Medals; NASA Space Flight Medals; General Thomas D. White Space Trophy; Haley Space Flight Award; and induction into the International Space Hall of Fame.
He earned bachelor and master of science degrees in mechanical engineering from the California Institute of Technology.