BROWNSVILLE, Texas (KVEO) – An Idaho Air Force veteran is returning home a happy man after checking off a big bucket list item: visiting the SpaceX Boca Chica launch site.
Technology, engineering, and space have been among Charles ‘Chuck’ Fullmer’s, 72, interests since an early age.
The disabled veteran began building model rockets at the age of seven and went on to study Electronics and Computer Science at Idaho State.
During his time in the Air Force, he worked on the LGM-30 Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile and developed training protocol for technicians aboard nuclear submarines.
These days, Fullmer’s life is less active; he calls himself a recluse, noting that due to his disability, he only leaves his home in Boise, Idaho to get groceries.
While Fullmer may not be able to physically travel on his own, his words and knowledge certainly do.
During SpaceX Boca Chica testing activity, Fullmer can be seen and heard commentating on the LabPadre live stream. He, along with other commentators, who call themselves the Nurdle (a heard of nerds), from around the country, guide viewers through the activity they see on the live stream.
The LabPadre YouTube live stream has been providing a 24/7 look at the development of the Boca Chica SpaceX launch site; during launches, the channel reaches over 60 thousand viewers from all over the world.
Fullmer became involved with the channel after watching SpaceX test their Starhopper.
“When I found hoppy and was able to watch him fly, I was hooked. I couldn’t turn the channel off. It runs 24/7 at my house. My computer never gets shut off,” he said, adding that he would frequently wake up just to watch what was going on at the Boca Chica launch site through the live stream.
While much of the Nurdle has never met in person, their bond online is strong. Upon finding out that it was Fullmer’s dream to visit the SpaceX, they began a collection and were able to fund a whole trip for him to spend at Boca Chica.
The trip turned out better than expected for Fullmer. His trip aligned with Starship SN15’s historic launch and landing, after multiple scrubs.
“I was the first one to holler, ‘it stuck the landing!’”
“It has been so wonderful. This is on my bucket list. One of the things I wanted to do before I go and meet the maker,” said Fullmer.
Fullmer came uncomfortably close to that reality. Not long after watching the launch, he suffered a heart attack, leaving many people who have come to know him online and in-person worried.
Much to everyone’s relief, Fullmer was released from the hospital a few days later and able to make one last visit to the launch site.
Fullmer took that opportunity to check one more thing off his bucket list: riding along the length of the SpaceX launch site in his electric scooter.
“This should have happened 40 years ago, and I’m so glad that it’s happening now, and I get to actually see it,” said Fullmer about the work being done at SpaceX.