National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center
Houston, Texas 77058
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NAME: Alan G. Poindexter (Lieutenant Commander, USN)
- NASA Astronaut Candidate (Pilot)
- PERSONAL DATA:
- Born November 5, 1961 in Pasadena, California, but considers Rockville,
Maryland to be his hometown. Married to the former Lisa A. Pfeiffer. They have
two children. Recreational interests include running, weight lifting, water
skiing, boating, hunting, and fishing. His parents, John M. and Linda A.
Poindexter, reside in Rockville, Maryland. Lisa's parents live in Gulf Breeze,
- Graduated from Coronado High School, Coronado, California in 1979.
Graduated with highest honors from Georgia Institute of Technology with a
bachelor of aerospace engineering degree in 1986 and a master of science in
aeronautical engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School in 1995.
- Society of Experimental Test Pilots, Tau Beta Pi Engineering Society.
- Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with Combat V, Navy and Marine
Corps Achievement Medal, various other service awards.
- SPECIAL HONORS:
- Naval Air Warfare Center, Aircraft Division Test Pilot of the Year 1996;
Top Ten Carrier Aviator, Carrier Airwing Nine.
- Poindexter was commisioned following graduation from the Georgia Institute
of Technology in 1986. After a short tour of duty at the Hypervelocity Wind
Tunnel Facility, Naval Surface Weapons Center, White Oak, Maryland, Poindexter
reported for flight training in Pensacola, Florida. He was designated a Naval
Aviator in 1988 and reported to Fighter Squadron 124, Naval Air Station
Miramar, California, for transition to the F-14 Tomcat. Following his initial
training, Poindexter was assigned to Fighter Squadron 211, also at Miramar,
and made two deployments to the Arabian Gulf during Operations Desert Storm
and Southern Watch. While attached to VF-211, Poindexter was designated as a
Wing Qualified Landing Signal Officer. During his second deployment in 1993,
he was selected to attend the Naval Postgraduate School/U.S. Naval Test Pilot
School Cooperative Program. Following graduation in December 1995, Poindexter
was assigned as a Test Pilot and Project Officer at the Naval Strike Aircraft
Test Squadron (NSATS), Naval Air Station (NAS) Patuxent River, Maryland. While
at NSATS, Poindexter was assigned as the lead test pilot for the F-14 Digital
Flight Control System where he logged the first carrier landing and catapult
launch of an F-14 with the upgraded flight controls. He also flew numerous
high angle of attack/departure tests, weapons separation tests and carrier
suitability trials. Following his tour at Patuxent River, Poindexter reported
to Fighter Squadron 32, NAS Oceana, Virginia where he was serving as a
department head when he was selected for Astronaut training.
Poindexter has more than 2,000 hours in over 30 aircraft types and has
logged over 450 carrier landings.
- NASA EXPERIENCE:
- Selected by NASA in June 1998, he reported for training in August 1998.
Astronaut Candidate Training includes orientation briefings and tours,
numerous scientific and technical briefings, intensive instruction in Shuttle
and International Space Station systems, physiological training and ground
school to prepare for T-38 flight training, as well as learning water and
wilderness survival techniques. Following a period of training and evaluation,
he will receive technical assignments within the Astronaut Office before being
assigned to a space flight.
Article Written in the Rockville Gazette
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
NASA astronaut Capt. Alan G. Poindexter, a former Rockville resident, is the commander of the next space shuttle mission.
He will serve aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery, which is expected to launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on April 5 en route to the International Space Station.
As of Tuesday, however, NASA announced that a leaky helium valve on Discovery could postpone the launch. Tests will be performed this week to determine the severity of the malfunction.
This will be the 33rd shuttle mission to the space station, according to the NASA.gov Web site.
Born in Pasadena, Calif., in 1961, "Dex," as he is known to friends and family, grew up across America before arriving in Rockville in 1971.
"Rockville is where I grew up on and off," he said in a conference call interview last week. "It was a great experience growing up in the Washington metro area and Montgomery County."
Poindexter spent several years in Rockville and attended Thomas S. Wootton High School before moving to Coronado, Calif., and graduating from Coronado High School in 1979.
He returned to Washington in the early 1980s with his family, Adm. John Poindexter and Linda Poindexter. His father served in the U.S. Navy, becoming National Security Advisor for the Reagan administration from 1985 to 1986, NASA officials confirmed. The elder Poindexter made headlines following his involvement in the Iran-Contra affair.
Alan Poindexter said his family remained in Rockville. "They're retired there and I get to come home every once in a while," he said.
The Gazette had only brief access to Poindexter as part of a media conference call last week.
His parents could not be reached for comment on their son's mission.
Alan Poindexter's professional career also brought him back to Maryland. Following in his father's footsteps, he was commissioned into the Navy after graduating from the Georgia Institute of Technology with a degree in aerospace engineering in 1986, according to his official NASA biography.
Poindexter's first job assignment was working for the Naval Surface Weapons Center in White Oak.
Following his tour of duty there, Poindexter uprooted to Pensacola, Fla., for flight training. He later served two tours of duty in Operation Desert Storm.
After earning his graduate degree from the Naval Postgraduate School, he continued working as a test pilot, returning again to Maryland where he was stationed at the Patuxent River Naval Air Station.
In June 1998, Poindexter was selected by NASA for astronaut training.
He and other astronaut trainees go through 20 months of demanding physical and mental tasks, including outdoor survival training, T-34 flight instruction and written examinations, according to the NASA Web site.
His first space flight was set to be STS-120 on board Space Shuttle Discovery, but it was postponed in the aftermath of the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster. STS-120 would eventually launch in 2007, but with an entirely different crew.
It took Poindexter almost 10 years from the time he was commissioned to NASA until he made it into orbit in February 2008 when he served as the pilot of Space Shuttle Atlantis during STS-122.
Today he is stationed at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston, making the final preparations for the launch of his second space flight.
Joining Poindexter on board Discovery are pilot James Dutton Jr. and mission specialists Clayton Anderson, Rick Mastracchio, Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger and Stephanie Wilson from NASA, and Naoko Yamazaki of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.
"I've talked to Dutton about splitting up the duties. We have a couple of great crew members behind us," he said. "My job as commander is to ensure mission success and safety and make sure we bring everyone and everything home safely. That's my over launching objective."
According to NASA, Discovery will fly to the International Space Station to deliver a multi-purpose logistics module, during which Anderson and Mastracchio will conduct three spacewalks "to replace an ammonia tank assembly, retrieve a Japanese experiment from the station's exterior and switch out a rate gyro assembly on the S0 element of the station's truss."
Back on Earth, Poindexter and his wife, Lisa, have two sons.
The mission will be bittersweet for NASA as it marks the first of four remaining space shuttle flights. This year marks the final year of the Space Shuttle program, after which it will be discontinued as part of the Vision for Space Exploration policy made by former president George W. Bush in 2004, according to the policy posted on the NASA Web site.
"I feel privileged and honored to have flown," Poindexter said. "It's been a tremendous ride, looking back on the legacy and accomplishments, like the Hubble telescope and the launching of the International Space Station in 1998."
Even with his accomplishments, "Dex" remains humble and, despite the pun, down to Earth.
"I'm just honored and privileged to be here. We have a big team and a wonderful crew," he said. "As for making history, I'll leave that to the historians."
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