LANCASTER, Calif. — C. Gordon Fullerton, a former astronaut who flew on two space shuttle missions and had an extensive career as a research and test pilot for NASA and the Air Force, died Wednesday, the space agency said. He was 76.
Fullerton was born in Butler and attended Broad Street Elementary School before his family moved to Rochester, N.Y., and later to Portland, Ore.
His father, Charles Fullerton, was a native of Mars, and his mother, the former Grace Sherman, was from Butler.
In 1973 he attended the Mars centennial celebration.
In 1982, he was back in Butler to visit a cousin.
Fullerton suffered a severe stroke in 2009 and had been in a long-term care facility in Lancaster for most of the past 3 ½ years, NASA said in a statement.
An astronaut from 1969 to 1986, Fullerton spent 382 hours in space on his shuttle missions and flew more than 135 types of aircraft as a test pilot, amassing more than 16,000 flight hours.
Fullerton soared into orbit aboard the shuttle Columbia in March 1982, an eight-day flight test.
In 1985, Fullerton commanded the shuttle Challenger on a flight that carried the Spacelab module in its cargo bay to conduct an array of science experiments.
Fullerton retired from the Air Force in 1988 and from NASA in 2007.