Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center
Houston, Texas 77058
He was a member of the astronaut support crew for the Skylab 2, 3, and 4 missions, and principal investigator for Skylab experiments on mass measurement, anthropometric measurements, hemodynamics, and human fluid shifts and physical conditioning. He first documented the shift and loss of fluid changes in body posture size and shape, including increase in height and the rapid loss of muscle strength and mass in space flight.
As a member of the Astronaut Office Operations Missions Development group, Dr. Thornton was responsible for developing crew procedures and techniques for deployable payloads, and for maintenance of crew conditions in flight. He developed advanced techniques for, and made studies in kinesiology and kinesimetry related to space operations.
During STS operations he continued physiological investigations in the cardiovascular and musculoskeletal and neurological areas. He developed the Shuttle treadmill for in-flight exercise and several other on-board devices. His work concentrated on the space adaptation syndrome, with relevant investigations on STS-4, STS-5, STS-6, STS-7, and STS-8.
Dr. Thornton holds more than 35 issued patents that range from military weapons systems through the first real-time EKG computer analysis. Space related items include the first inflight mass measurement devices, shock and vibration isolation systems, an improved waste collection system, an improved Lower Body Negative Pressure (LBNP) apparatus, and others.
Dr. Thornton first served as a mission specialist on STS-8, which launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on August 30, 1983. This was the third flight for the Orbiter Challenger and the first mission with a night launch and night landing. During the flight Dr. Thornton made almost continuous measurements of and investigations in adaptation of the human body to weightlessness, especially of the nervous system and of the space adaptation syndrome. This was a continuation of his previous work in these areas. Much of the equipment used was designed and developed by Dr. Thornton. STS-8 completed 98 orbits of the Earth in 145 hours before landing at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on September 5, 1983.
On his second flight, Dr. Thornton was a mission specialist on STS 51-B, the Spacelab-3 science mission, which launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on April 29, 1985. During this mission, Dr. Thornton was responsible for the first animal payload in manned flight and other medical investigations. After completing 110 orbits of the earth, the Orbiter Challenger landed at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on May 6, 1985. With the completion of this flight, Dr. Thornton logged over 313 hours in space.
Dr. Thornton continues his work in space medicine while awaiting his next flight opportunity.
ARCHIVAL BIOGRAPHY LAST UPDATED FEBRUARY 1992