Women have penetrated almost every field and some women made the lists of firsts long before the USA. This series will concentrate on female astronauts. The astronauts are Russian, American, British, French, Japanese, South Korean and Canadian. Julie Payette is our home-grown Montreal born astronaut.
Kathryn Ryan Cordell Thornton
Kathryn Ryan Cordell Thornton was born in 1952, in Montgomery Alabama. Dr. Thornton received her bachelor of science in physics, in 1970, her masters in science in physics in 1975 and her PhD in physics in 1979.
- Member of the American Physical Society,
- American Association for the Advancement of Science, Sigma Xi, Phi Kappa Phi, and Sigma Pi Sigma
After obtaining her doctorate, Dr. Thornton she also received a NATO Postdoctoral Fellowship to continue her research at the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg, Germany.
In 1980, when she returned to the USA, she took a position as physician with U.S. Army Foreign Science and Technology Center. She also was a spacecraft communicator (CAPCOM).
Kathryn Thornton became an NASA astronaut in 1985. She performed flight software verification in the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory (SAIL). She was a part of the Vehicle Integration Test Team (VITT) at Kennedy Space Center
Dr. Thornton was a crew member of three space missions. She was aboard the STS-33 Discovery in 1989, STS-49 Endeavor in 1992, and STS-61 Endeavor in 1993. Dr. Thornton has spend 975 hours in space including space walks.
Dr. Thornton has carried out the duties of a mission specialist working on Department of Defense payloads and other secondary payloads. She carried out “four EVA’s (space walks) to retrieve, repair, and deploy the International Telecommunications Satellite (INTELSAT), and to demonstrate and evaluate numerous EVA tasks to be used for the assembly of Space Station Freedom. “ She also participated in the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) servicing and repair mission.
On her last space mission in 1995, Kathryn Thornton served as “the payload commander of the second United States Microgravity Laboratory mission. The mission focused on materials science, biotechnology, combustion science, the physics of fluids, and numerous scientific experiments housed in the pressurized Spacelab module.”
Dr. Thornton is currently faculty at the University of Virginia and she is also the director of UVA’s Center for Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Education.