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Manley Lanier "Sonny" Carter, Jr. (August 15, 1947–April 5, 1991) was an Americanmarker physician, Naval officer, and NASAmarker astronaut who flew on STS-33. He was scheduled to fly on STS-42 at the time of his death in the crash of Atlantic Southeast Airlines Flight 2311 in Brunswick, Georgiamarker while on a commercial airplane traveling for NASA. Carter was killed in the same plane crash that took the life of former Senator John Tower of Texasmarker.

Early life

Sonny Carter was born in Maconmarker, Georgiamarker, and graduated from Lanier High Schoolmarker in Macon in 1965. He received a bachelor of arts degree in chemistry from Emory Universitymarker, in 1969 and a doctor of medicine degree from there in 1973. In addition to his careers in both the Navy and with NASAmarker, Carter was a professional soccer player from 1970 to 1973 with the Atlanta Chiefs of the NASL.

After completing medical school in 1973, Carter completed internship in internal medicine at Grady Memorial Hospitalmarker in Atlanta. In 1974, he entered the Navy and completed flight surgeon school. After serving tours as a flight surgeon with the 1st and 3rd Marine Air Wings, he returned to flight training and was designated a Naval Aviator on April 28, 1978 at NAS Chase, Beeville, TX. During the following years, his naval career allowed him to serve as a fighter pilot flying F-4 Phantoms with the Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 333 (VMFA 333) and to complete a nine month Mediterraneanmarker cruise aboard USS Forrestalmarker. In 1982 he attended the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School, graduating in 1984. Carter logged 3,000 flying hours and 160 carrier landings.

Astronaut

Selected by NASA in May 1984, Carter became an astronaut in June 1985, qualified for assignment as a mission specialist on future Space Shuttle flight crews. Carter was assigned as Extra-vehicular activity (EVA) Representative for the Mission Development Branch of the Astronaut Office when selected to the crew of STS-33. The STS-33 crew launched, at night, from Kennedy Space Centermarker, Floridamarker, on November 22, 1989, aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery. The mission carried Department of Defense payloads and other secondary payloads. After 79 orbits of the earth, this five-day mission concluded on November 27, 1989 with a hard surface landing on Runway 04 at Edwards Air Force Basemarker, Californiamarker. Carter logged 120 hours in space.

At the time of his death, Carter was assigned as a mission specialist on the crew of STS-42, the first International Microgravity Laboratory (IML-1).

Legacy

After his death, his name was given to the Sonny Carter Training Facilitymarker Neutral Buoyancy Laboratorymarker, NASA's underwater astronaut training facility, for which he had developed training techniques.

Sonny Carter Elementary School in Macon, Georgia, which opened in 1993, was named for Carter. The school motto is: "To Challenge the Edge of the Universe."

References




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