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August 6, 2002

Release: 02-46

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Note to Editors: A 25th anniversary retrospective for news media representatives on the achievements of the space shuttle Approach and Landing Tests (ALT) is scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 8, at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base.

The informal event will begin at 10 a.m., and will feature at least five of the principal figures involved in the ALT program sharing their perspectives on the historic flights. A photo and video opportunity with the modified Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) will follow the round-table discussion.

The Approach and Landing Tests incorporated eight "captive carry" flights of the prototype shuttle orbiter Enterprise atop the modified 747, and five free flights in which the Enterprise was released to make an unpowered glide flight back to a runway landing, either on Rogers Dry Lake or on the main Edwards runway. The first free flight occurred on Aug. 12, 1977. The tests proved the shuttle could be controlled during the last portion of its descent from space and make a precision landing on a conventional runway.

Among those scheduled to participate are:
  • Former astronaut and current Dryden research pilot Gordon Fullerton, who flew the Enterprise with former astronaut Fred Haise on the first free flight;
  • Retired Dryden research pilot Fitzhugh Fulton, who piloted the modified 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft on the first flight;
  • Retired NASA engineer John McTigue, Dryden’s project manager for the ALT;
  • Retired NASA operations engineer Bill Albrecht, who helped develop an emergency escape system for the 747 SCA crew in case of a mishap; and
  • Joe D’Agostino, currently chief of the shuttle support office at Dryden, who was in charge of shuttle security operations at Dryden during the ALT program.
M edia representatives planning to participate should call (661) 276-2665 or (661) 276-3449 for accreditation no later than 9 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 7. Media representatives must be United States citizens and provide their full name, media affiliation, city, state and date of birth, driver’s license number and state of issue, and the last six digits of their social security number. Media personnel must also show two forms of photo identification at the Air Force security gate to gain access to the base.

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