The first African American in space.
Dr. Guion “Guy” S. Bluford Jr. (Colonel, USAF, Ret.) was the first African American to fly in space. He was also the first African American to return to space a second, third and fourth time. As the first African American to be awarded United States Air Force Command Pilot Astronaut Wings, he has logged over 5200 hours in high performance jet aircraft and has flown 688 hours in space.
Bluford was born in Philadelphia, PA in 1942 and received a bachelor of science degree in aerospace engineering from the Pennsylvania State University in 1964, a master of science degree in aerospace engineering with distinction from the Air Force Institute of Technology in 1974, a doctor of philosophy degree in aerospace engineering with a minor in laser physics from the Air Force Institute of Technology in 1978 and a master in business administration from the University of Houston, Clear Lake in 1987.
After graduating from Penn State, Bluford earned his Air Force pilot wings and then flew 144 combat missions in Southeast Asia as an F4C fighter pilot. From 1967 to 1972, he served as a T-38 instructor pilot at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas.
After graduating from the Air Force Institute of Technology in 1974, he was assigned to the Air Force Flight Dynamics Laboratory as deputy for advanced concepts for the Aeromechanics Division and then as branch chief of the Aerodynamics and Airframe Branch until his selection to the astronaut program in 1978.
Bluford flew as a mission specialist and flight engineer aboard STS-8, on the first night launch and landing of the Space Shuttle. He assisted the commander and pilot in developing techniques for night time operations. He also deployed the Indian National Satellite and operated the Continuous Flow Electrophoresis System.
In 1985, Bluford flew as a mission specialist on STS-61A, and led the international on-orbit payload team in the training and on-orbit operations of 76 experiments in the German D-1 Spacelab.
In 1991, Bluford flew on STS-39, managing the operation of several experiments in support of the DOD Strategic Defense Initiative Office and then flew in 1992 on STS-53, a classified Space Shuttle flight
In 1993, Bluford resigned from the Air Force and NASA to become the Vice President/General Manager of the Engineering Services Division of NYMA Inc, in Greenbelt, Maryland. In 1997, he became Vice President of the Aerospace Sector of Federal Data Corporation and in 2000, Bluford became Vice President of Microgravity R&D and Operations for the Northrop Grumman Corporation.
Bluford has served on numerous boards including the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), the National Research Council’s Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board, the Aerospace Corporation, and the Space Foundation. He is currently the President of the Aerospace Technology Group, in Cleveland Ohio.
Guion Bluford was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame on June 5, 2010.