Interview: Kathryn Thornton

Today, we continue our video interview series with four-time space shuttle astronaut Kathy Thornton. Thornton became an astronaut in 1985, a pretty good time to get into the lineup. Her first mission was STS-33 in 1989 on Discovery. She flew on Endeavour twice, on STS-49 in 1992 and STS-61 in 1993. Her last flight was on Columbia, for STS-73 in 1995. She was inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame last year. She’s on the engineering faculty at the University of Virginia.

When we interviewed Thornton last year, Anna had already talked with Mike Coats (see video HERE), a shuttle astronaut and the Director of Johnson Space Center, but the Lofty duo hadn’t conducted any interviews together. After Discovery’s launch had been scrubbed, we happened upon a bunch of astronauts at the Visitor Complex, but we hadn’t planned ahead. We took a few minutes to prep questions, then dove right in, beginning with Kathy Thornton. You’ll notice our lack of practice in this video: we introduce ourselves but not the astronaut, and it’s a pretty short conversation. Since then, we’ve developed our interviewing skills, and we jumped at opportunities in the News Center. In fact, during subsequent visits to Kennedy Space Center, we could have talked with Michael Barratt (see video HERE) or Mike Massimino (see video HERE) for hours, though that may have as much to do with astronauts’ range of skills as our progress with this Lofty Ambitions project.

6 thoughts on “Interview: Kathryn Thornton

  1. Dear Dr. Thornton–I am the Cubmaster at Pack 114 at MLS–you spoke to our Cubs a few years ago–I was hoping you might consider coming back to talk about your experience and the new Mars Rover.

  2. Sure would be great to get you back out to MLS to speak to my Cub Scouts about your experiences and the new Mars Rover.

  3. Oh my goodness. This is amazing. My daughter is doing a book report on Dr. Thornton. She as all of us and her 4th grade class at Cottage Hill Christian academy in Mobile Alabama are huge fans. We are hoping to play this interview for them during her book report for her class. WOULD LOVE to have Dr. Thornton come speak to her school. Even a skype or face time interview would be amazing for them. We have a robotics department that is phenomenal.

    1. That’s great to hear about your daughter’s book review. Some of the most rewarding moments we’ve had as bloggers is hearing from parents. We nudged another parent to contact Apollo astronaut Alan Bean, just through his art website, and his son talked with the astronaut for a half-hour and won a statewide history competition. Kathy Thornton was a recent instructor for Semester at Sea and is on the faculty at UVA: http://www.mae.virginia.edu/NewMAE/faculty/faculty-list.php?uid=kt4n.

      1. Well we emailed her. My daughter was so funny she said she had the same feeling as when she sends a letter to santa. but with out the presents and stuff. Totally will have to tell her she said that. Kids are so funny. Would be really nice if she could hear from her.

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