HOUSTON — The shrinking astronaut corps will lose another member when C. Gordon Fullerton leaves next month to become a test pilot. By his own request, the 49-year-old Air Force colonel is being reassigned to Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base in California, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration announced Tuesday.
Fullerton's departure will reduce the number of astronauts to 78. Eight members of the corps have retired, been transferred or resigned in the last two years. Five died in the Challenger explosion in January and one died in an auto accident.