Manley Lanier "Sonny" Carter, Jr.
) was an American physician
, Naval officer, and NASA 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, Georgia
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
Sonny Carter was born in Macon
, and graduated from Lanier High School
in Macon in 1965. He received a bachelor of arts degree in chemistry from Emory University
, in 1969 and a doctor of medicine degree from there in 1973. In addition to his careers in both the Navy
and with NASA
, 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 Hospital 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 in 1978. 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 Mediterranean cruise aboard USS Forrestal. In 1982 he attended the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School, graduating in 1984. Carter logged 3,000 flying hours and 160 carrier landings.
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 Center
, on November 22
, 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
with a hard surface landing on Runway 04 at Edwards Air Force Base
. 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).
After his death, his name was given to the Sonny Carter Training Facility Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory
, 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."