Alan Poindexter: Space shuttle astronaut

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The Independent Online

Alan Poindexter, who died on 1 July in a jet-ski accident at Pensacola Beach in Florida, was an astronaut who made two space flights during his career with Nasa. In February 2008 he piloted the shuttle Atlantis on a mission to deliver the European Space Agency's Columbus laboratory module to the International Space Station. In 2010 he commanded the shuttle Discovery on one of the final cargo runs before the shuttles were retired.

A captain in the US Navy, and son of the former US National Security Adviser John Poindexter, who served in the Reagan administration, Poindexter left Nasa in December 2010 to become dean of students at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. He earned a Masters degree in aeronautical engineering in 1995.

Poindexter was born in 1961 in Pasadena, California. He graduated in engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and was then commissioned in the Navy. He flew combat missions in Iraq during Operation Desert Storm and Operation Southern Watch, subsequently becoming a test pilot. He logged more than 4,000 hours flying time in more than 30 types of aircraft. He was selected to join Nasa's astronaut corps in June 1998.