Guion S. Bluford, Jr.Astronaut
Born: 22 November 1942
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Best known as: The first African-American to fly in space
Astronaut Guion Bluford became the first African-American in space when he flew on the space shuttle Challenger in 1983. Bluford was a former Air Force fighter pilot who flew 144 combat missions in the Vietnam War in 1966-67. After his wartime service he received an master's degree (1974) and a PhD (1978) from the Air Force Institute of Technology before joining the NASA astronaut corps in 1979. Bluford was a mission specialist on four different shuttle flights: STS-8 (1983, shuttle Challenger), STS-61-A (1985, shuttle Challenger), STS-39 (1991, shuttle Discovery) and STS-53 (1992, shuttle Discovery). According to his Air Force biography, he spent a total of 688 hours in space over his four missions. He retired from NASA and the Air Force with the rank of Colonel in 1993 and became a businessman. He was made a member of the International Space Hall of Fame in 1997.
Bluford's nickname is Guy... Bluford earned a bachelor's degree from Penn State in 1964 before entering the Air Force... Bluford's 1985 mission on STS-61-A was the last successful flight of the Challenger
. The shuttle exploded on its next flight in 1986, killing teacher Christa McAuliffe
and six others... Many sources note that the first black
man in space was Arnaldo Mendez, a Cuban who flew in the Russian flight Soyuz 38 in 1980... Bluford is married to the former Linda Tull. They have two children: Guion III (b. 1964) and James (b. 1965)... The first African-American woman
in space was Mae Jemison
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