Billingham, John 1930 - 2013
John Billingham was born on 18 March 1930 in Worcester, and after earning a degree in physiology at Oxford
University, he started clinical studies at Guy’s Hospital in London, qualifying in 1954. He also attended meetings of the British Interplanetary Society.
In 1956 Billingham joined the Royal Air Force as a medical officer, training as a surgeon and rising to the rank of squadron leader. His research at the Royal Air Force Institute of Aviation Medicine in Farnborough was particularly focused on climatic physiology, and included the impact of heat stress on pilots.
In 1963 Billingham joined NASA after being headhunted from the Institute becoming the head of environment physiology at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. He was hired to improve space suit design, with an early project being to develop water cooled underwear which the RAF Insitute had already been long working on.
In 1965 Billingham moved to Ames Research Center, where he led the first comprehensive study on a permanent lunar laboratory. He was eventually named chief of the Life Sciences division.
He supported the search for intelligent and microbial extraterrestrial life with a major programme including workshops, research, papers, and a major conference in 1979 later published as a book, Life in the Universe.