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German Astronaut Killed In Crash

Reinhard Furrer, a German astronaut who took part in the last successful mission of the space shuttle Challenger, has died in a plane crash. He was 54.

Furrer and the pilot of a 1944 Messerschmitt 108 were killed Friday when the refurbished World War II plane crashed into a field after takeoff at an air show at Berlin’s Johannisthal airfield.

Furrer was one of the first German astronauts to work with NASA and the third German in space. He helped operate Spacelab D1, a West German-financed payload aboard the October 1985 Challenger mission that was the first purely German research mission in space.

Challenger exploded, killing all seven aboard, after takeoff in January 1986.

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