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Eileen Hawley March 29, 1995


Ann Toulouse

McDonnell Douglas Aerospace


RELEASE: 95-023


McDonnell Douglas Aerospace and NASA on Friday will name a new space flight training facility in honor of the late astronaut M. L. "Sonny" Carter.

The Clear Lake Development Facility, located near the Johnson Space Center and adjacent to Houston's Ellington Field, will be renamed the "Sonny Carter Training Facility" during ceremonies scheduled for 4 p.m. CST Friday.

The building, initially constructed by McDonnell Douglas for assembling space station components, is being modified to house a neutral buoyancy pool in which astronauts will train to support Shuttle missions and International Space Station assembly. In addition, the building will provide necessary office and laboratory space to support NASA requirements.

"We are delighted to be a member of the International Space Station team and to demonstrate our commitment by moving forward now with our NASA partner to name this important facility after Dr. Carter," said John P. Capellupo, President, McDonnell Douglas Aerospace. "This facility already houses both NASA and contractor employees working on space station, and I know they will be proud to be working in a facility named after such a distinguished and accomplished astronaut."

The facility will allow shuttle crews and trainers to test and validate techniques and procedures to be used by space-walking astronauts assembling the space station. While with the astronaut office, Carter was instrumental in developing many of the current techniques used by shuttle astronauts during spacewalks.

"I am delighted that McDonnell Douglas has agreed to the naming of the facility for Sonny Carter," said NASA Administrator Daniel Goldin. "It is a fitting tribute to a great American and an inspiration to all of us involved in the space program."

Construction on the pool, electronics and assembly areas is set to begin April 3.

In December, NASA negotiated a lease-purchase agreement with McDonnell Douglas for the modification and eventual purchase of the facility. Legislation authorizing the funds to purchase the building is being prepared for introduction to Congress, with the support of leading Members of Congress having jurisdiction over NASA programs and funding.

McDonnell Douglas Aerospace, aware of congressional interest in naming the facility for Carter, agreed to the naming of the building now, rather than waiting until construction of the facility is completed. Formal dedication of the building as a NASA-owned facility is expected to occur when the training pool is complete in 1996.

Friday's ceremony will feature special tributes to Carter, and brief descriptions of the space station assembly and training plans. Following the ceremony, guests may tour the training facility. Members of Carter's family will attend the ceremony and invitations have been sent to leading Members of Congress, as well as other local and state dignitaries.

Carter died April 5, 1991 in a commuter plane crash near New Brunswick, GA. Senator John Tower of Texas, his daughter Marian, and 20 other people also died in the accident. Selected as an astronaut in 1984, Carter first flew on STS-33, a dedicated Department of Defense mission. At the time of his death, Carter was training as a crew member for STS-42.

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