William E Thornton


Astronaut William Thornton has died aged 91. He was the space physician (the real life Bones – and he worked on bones too!) on four Skylab missions, and conducted cardio testing on two Challenger missions. No, not the one that immediately springs to your mind, obviously. Although on his second flight in 1985, an issue with the Shuttle O-rings during cold weather nearly lead to disaster. The issue, which provoked a near catastrophic miss, was flagged up to NASA superiors by Roger Boisjoly as needing immediate fixing. And you all know how that went…

After retiring from going into space, Thornton remained interested in medical breakthroughs and how they’d help astronauts, and worked as a professor of medicine at two Texas universities. He was picked by two astronaut theme teams, Apollogies for Stil Living, and Decaying Orbit-uaries…

William E Thornton
14 April 1929 – 11 January 2021
2 teams