October 20, 1995
The Space Shuttle Columbia launched its fourth and final mission with astronaut and nuclear physicist Kathryn Thornton aboard on Oct. 20, 1995. The Montgomery native and Auburn University graduate was an astronaut from 1985 until 1996, logging nearly 1,000 hours in space. She helped upgrade the Hubble Space Telescope, tested systems for the International Space Station and launched and repaired satellites. One of 17 astronauts selected from more than 5,000 applicants, Thornton’s first space flight was aboard Discovery in 1989. She flew on the maiden voyage of Endeavour in 1992 and on its third mission in 1993. She was part of a 16-day mission aboard Columbia. Thornton was later on the task force that studied the January 2003 explosion of Columbia and she offered recommendations to prevent future disasters.
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Astronaut Kathryn C. Thornton, on the end of the space shuttle Endeavour’s Remote Manipulator System arm, hovers over equipment associated with servicing chores on the Hubble Space Telescope during the second extra-vehicular activity on the 11-day mission. (NASA)
In this image, Astronaut Kathy Thornton releases the old panel from the Hubble Space Telescope into low-Earth orbit during the first Hubble Space Telescope Servicing Mission in 1993. Earth’s gravitation pulled the jettisoned panel toward Earth’s atmosphere, where it entered and ultimately burned up. (NASA, Wikipedia)
Astronauts included in the STS-61 crew portrait are (standing in rear left to right) Richard O. Covey, commander; and mission specialists Jeffrey A. Hoffman and Thomas D. Akers. Seated left to right are Kenneth D. Bowersox, pilot; Kathryn C. Thornton, mission specialist; F. Story Musgrave, payload commander; and Claude Nicollier, mission specialist. Launched aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour on Dec. 2, 1993, the STS-61 mission was the first Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission, and the last mission of 1993. (NASA, Wikipedia)
These seven NASA astronauts are training for the first flight of Endeavour, Orbiter Vehicle 105, seen in the background. Crew members, wearing navy blue flight suits, are (left to right) Mission Specialist (MS) Kathryn C. Thornton, MS Bruce E. Melnick, MS Pierre J. Thuot, Commander Daniel C. Brandenstein, Pilot Kevin P. Chilton, MS Thomas D. Akers, and MS Richard J. Hieb. (Photograph by NASA JSC contract photographer Mark Sowa, NASA, Wikipedia)
Kathryn C. Thornton (Ph.D.), NASA astronaut (missions STS-33, STS-49, STS-61, STS-73). (NASA, Wikipedia)
This photo depicts astronaut and Mission Specialist Kathryn Thornton performing the second extra-vehicular activity of the STS-61 mission. Launched Dec. 1, 1993 aboard the space shuttle Endeavour, the STS-61 mission was solely dedicated to servicing the Hubble Space Telescope. (NASA, Wikipedia)
This close-up of astronaut and Mission Specialist Kathryn Thornton readies herself for submersion into the water in the Marshall Space Flight Center Neutral Buoyancy Simulator, where she is participating in a training session for the STS-61 mission. (NASA)
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