Willliam Fastie was born in Baltimore on 6 December 1916 and grew up during the Depression. In the 1950s he helped set up the space program at Johns Hopkins University. In 1973 NASA presented him with the Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal for Outstanding Contributions to the Space Program.
Although Fastie retired from Hopkins in 1982, he continued to work on campus through 1997 as a telescope scientist and a member of the HST science working group. He also continued to lead a program to search for extrasolar planets using HST.
On 14 July 2000 Fastie died of pneumonia in Baltimore. His colleagues at Hopkins—Paul D. Feldman, Richard C. Henry, and H. Warren Moos—published a full obituary for him in Physics Today, May 2001.