United States Navy Captain and retired NASA Astronaut Alan Poindexter lost his life Sunday in a tragic jet ski accident near Little Sabine Bay off Pensacola Beach, Florida. A veteran of two space shuttle flights, Poindexter was reportedly on a jet ski with his younger son Samuel when his oldest son, Zacharay, crashed into and struck Poindexter. Captain Poindexter was airlifted to Baptist Hospital where he later died.
“Zacharay hit the rear of the jet ski the father and his brother were on,” said Stan Kirkland, an FWC public information officer. “Capt. Poindexter was then knocked off his jet ski. We’re conducting an investigation, and that’s where we’re at right now.”
Captain Poindexter was serving as department head at NAS Oceana, Virginia when he was selected for Astronaut training in 1998. In addition to his two shuttle flights on STS-122 and STS-131, the Rockville, Maryland native served in the Astronaut Office Shuttle Operations Branch and served as CAPCOM for several shuttle missions.
Poindexter’s first shuttle flight was on the space shuttle Atlantis in 2008, where he served as Pilot on mission STS-122, delivering the European Space Agency’s Columbus Laboratory to the International Space Station. His second – and final – space flight was as commander of space shuttle Discovery’s penultimate mission on STS-131 in 2010, where he and his crew delivered the Multi-Purpose Logistics Module to the International Space Station. During those two shuttle flights Captain Poindexter logged 669 hours (nearly a month) in space, and travelled over 11 million miles, orbiting the Earth 441 times.
When he retired from the Astronaut Corps in December of 2010, Peggy Whitson – Chief of the Astronaut Office – remarked, “Dex was a well-respected leader within our office, 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.” NASA issued the following statement hours after learning of Poindexter’s passing: “The NASA family was sad to learn of the passing of our former friend, and colleague Alan Poindexter who was killed today during a jet ski accident in Florida. Our thoughts and hearts are with his family.”
At the time of his passing, Poindexter was serving as dean of students and executive director of programs at the Naval Postgraduate School. He was 50 years old.Missions » ISS »