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Profile of Guion S. Bluford, Jr.

Astronaut
Date Of Birth:
22 November 1942
Place Of Birth:
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. Guion Bluford was a former Air Force fighter pilot who flew 144 combat missions during the Vietnam War in 1966-67. Earlier he had 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).