Today in Science
First African American in Space
Dr. Guion "Guy" S. Bluford, Jr., became the first African-American astronaut to travel into space when the Challenger space shuttle STS-8 mission launched on this day in 1983.
Born in 1942, Bluford grew up in Philadelphia. He earned a bachelor degree in aerospace engineering from Pennsylvania State University and masters and doctorate degrees in aerospace engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology and also holds an MBA from University of Houston, Clear Lake.
Bluford enlisted in the Air Force after finishing his bachelor's degreee and became a pilot. He flew 144 combat missions before becoming an instructor pilot. He retired from the Air Force as a colonel after 29 years in the service.
Bluford joined NASA in 1979, where he logged more than 688 hours on four space shuttle missions between 1983 and 1992. The first, STS-8, marked not only the first time an African-American traveled into space, but also the first shuttle program's first night launch and night landing. He was inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame in 1997 and the United States Astronaut Hall of Fame in 2010.