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Wed, Oct 10, 2018

Gone West: Space Shuttle Pilot Rick Searfoss

Flew Three Shuttle Missions, One As Commander

E-I-C Note: This is awful news... Rick was a close friend and a fellow adventurer in many an interesting pursuit... we were fellow Zero-G staffers through countless Zero-G parabolas, we worked together on XPrize business and were fellow pilots for the Rocket Racing League program. Throughout it all, Rick proved himself the consummate professional and a very good friend. I had a ball working with him, and whenever he was part of the program, great things happened. I mourn his loss and send my love and prayers to his family and friends... he was truly one of the most exceptional aviators I've ever known and a truly valued friend. God bless you, buddy... -- Jim Campbell, ANN CEO/Editor-In-Chief

Former NASA astronaut Rick Searfoss, a veteran of three space shuttle missions, has Gone West at the age of 62. Searfoss passed away at his home in California, according to the Tehachapi News.

Searfoss had been a flight instructor at the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School when he was selected for the 13th group of astronaut candidates. His first mission into space was as the pilot of STS-58 aboard the space shuttle Columbia. The 14-day Skylab mission studied the physiological effects of spaceflight. Searfoss also helped to evaluate a laptop-based simulation that allowed pilots to practice landings during an extended shuttle mission.

During reentry on that mission, Searfoss took control of the spacecraft to measure aerodynamic forces that affected the shuttle both in orbit and during the early stages of reentry.

He later was named as pilot of STS-76, which included docking with the Mir Space Station.

On his third mission, STS-90, he was given command of the spacecraft and the crew.

After retiring from NASA, Searfoss flew as a research pilot at what is now the Armstrong Flight Research Center in California. He was also appointed as the chief judge of the Ansari XPRIZE, and was one of two test pilots qualified to fly the XCOR Aerospace EZ-Rocket, an experimental rocket plane that was the predecessor of the planned suborbital Lynx spacecraft.

Over his career, Searfoss was awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal, a Distinguished Flying Cross and NASA Exceptional Service and Outstanding Leadership medals, among other awards and honors.

(NASA images)

FMI: Source report

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