Michael Milstein reports on Gordon Fullerton — a former astronaut who had previously flown on both Challenger and Columbia, the two space shuttles that are no more.
He commanded the shuttle Challenger on its successful flight in the summer of 1985, a year before it exploded. And before that, in 1982, he piloted the third space shuttle mission — an eight-day test flight of the shuttle Columbia.
When another research pilot called to tell him of Columbia’s loss on Saturday, “I got that real pit-in-the-stomach feeling,” said Fullerton, 66, now chief test pilot at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Dryden Flight Research Center in California. “It’s a real blow to see that happen and, for the technical people, to not know why it happened.”