Former astronaut, Rick Searfoss, dead at age 62

A former local astronaut, Rick Searfoss, has died at the age of 62.

Searfoss died Sept. 29 with family at his side at his home in Bear Valley Springs.

The cause of his death was not disclosed.

Searfoss lived in Tehachapi for over 30 years.

He was a flight instructor at the test pilot school at Edwards Air Force Base when he got the call from NASA and piloted Columbia on his first space shuttle mission in 1993. 

He studied the physiological effects of spaceflight.

He piloted Atlantis to deliver supplies and cosmonauts to the Russian space station Mir.

In his third and final shuttle mission, he as appointed commander of Columbia for the Neurolab mission in 1998 to study the effects of microgravity on the nervous system.

Rising to the rank of colonel in the Air Force, Searfoss logged more than 6,100 hours in 84 different types of aircraft.

After NASA, Searfoss remained active in the commercial space flight industry and was a test pilot for Xcor, a commercial space tourism firm based in Mojave.

Searfoss is survived by his wife, Julie, and their daughters Megan, Liz and Camille.

Services for Searfoss will be held Friday, Oct. 12 at 2 p.m., preceded by a viewing at 12:30 p.m. at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints at 600 Anita Drive in Tehachapi.

Interment, with full military honors, will be held on Nov. 30 at the Air Force Academy.


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