Another of NASA’s veteran astronauts has decided to depart the space agency as the agency works to retire the space shuttle. Military pilot, Alan Poindexter has decided to leave NASA in order to return to the Naval Postgraduate School located in Monterey, California.
Poindexter, who is a U.S. Navy captain, has history with the school, having earned a Master of Science degree in aeronautical engineering there back in 1995. This time however, he will return to serve as the dean of students and executive director of programs.
Poindexter flew two to the International Space Station (ISS) on board the space shuttle twice, in the process he logged over 660 hours in space. In 2008, he was the pilot on the STS-122 mission to deliver and install the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Columbus module. Two years later, he was the commander for STS-131, a resupply mission to the space station that delivered over 13,000 pounds of cargo to the orbiting laboratory.
Poindexter was chosen as an astronaut candidate back in June of 1998. Until he was given the nod to fly, he did what most astronauts did in the interim and served as CAPCOM for several missions. He also served in the Astronaut Office Shuttle Operations Branch as the lead support astronaut at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC).
“Dex was a well-respected leader within our office,” said Peggy Whitson, chief of the Astronaut Office at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “We will miss him being part of our team and wish him the best in his new role as he continues his service to the Navy and the country.”