Guion S. Bluford, Jr.

Date Of Birth:
22 November 1942
Place Of Birth:
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Best Known As:
The first Black American to fly in space
Astronaut Guion Bluford became the first Black American in space when he flew on the space shuttle Challenger in 1983. Guion Bluford was a Air Force fighter pilot during the Vietnam War, flying 144 combat missions in 1966 and 1967. By then he had already received a bachelor of science degree in engineering from Penn State (in 1964), and after his wartime service he received a master's degree (1974) and a PhD (1978) from the Air Force Institute of Technology. Bluford joined the NASA astronaut corps in 1979 and began his training as a mission specialist. He served on four different shuttle flights over a decade: 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. Guion Bluford retired from NASA and the Air Force with the rank of colonel in 1993 and became a businessman. He was inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame in 1997.
Extra Credit

Guion Bluford’s nickname is Guy… Guion 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…The first African-American woman in space was Mae Jemison (in 1992)… 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… Guion Bluford is married to the former Linda Tull. They have two children: Guion III (b. 1964) and James (b. 1965).

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