Space shuttle veteran Alan Goodwin ”Dex” Poindexter died on July 1 from injuries incurred in a jet ski accident while on vacation in Florida with his family. He is survived by his wife Lisa, and sons Samuel, 22, and Zachary, 26. Poindexter was 50 years old.
“We in the astronaut family have lost not only a dear friend, but also a patriot of the United States,” said Peggy Whitson, chief of the Astronaut Office at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “He proudly served his country for 26 years as a fighter pilot, test pilot, astronaut and commander of a space shuttle. I am proud to have both flown in space and worked with him for so many years. Dex will be deeply missed by those of us at Johnson and the entire NASA family.”
The accident seems to have occurred when Poindexter’s son Zachary inadvertently ran into his father’s and brother’s shared jet ski with his own. “They stopped and apparently Zachary did not see them stop,” said Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman Stan Kirkland. “He struck the right rear or the right stern of their personal watercraft. His watercraft went up and apparently struck Captain Poindexter in the back. Both Captain Poindexter and Samuel were ejected.” Neither Zachary nor Samuel were injured in the incident.
Poindexter joined NASA’s astronaut corps in 1998 following a career as a Navy combat and test pilot. His first spaceflight was aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis which he piloted on STS-122, installing the Columbus module on ISS. He later commanded Discovery on STS-131, its second-to-last flight. In 2010, Poindexter retired from the corps to return to his alma mater, the Naval Postgraduate School, as Dean of Students. He was serving in that capacity at the time of his death.
“Alan and I joined the astronaut corps in 1998 and flew together on STS-122, which was truly an incredible experience,” said NASA Associate Administrator for Education and former astronaut Leland Melvin. “He was a passionate, caring and selfless individual who will be missed by all.”
Watch Poindexter gain a young apprentice some extra credit in the Space Shuttle Simulator: