For day 11 of our Black History Month celebration, we recognize: Dr. Guion Bluford!
Dr. Guion Bluford is an aerospace engineer, retired U.S. Air Force officer and fighter pilot, and the first African American in space.
Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on November 22, 1942, Bluford attended Overbrook Senior High School, and graduated in 1960. In 1964, Bluford graduated from Pennsylvania State University as a distinguished Air Force ROTC graduate with a Bachelor of Science in aerospace engineering.
In January of 1966, Bluford received his pilot wings from Williams Air Force Base. He then went on to combat crew training and was assigned to the 557TH Tactical Fight Squadron in Vietnam, where he flew 144 combat missions with 65 of them being over North Vietnam.
In 1972, Bluford enrolled in the Air Force Institute of Technology, where he received a Master of Science in aerospace engineering in 1974, and a Doctor of Philosophy in aerospace engineering with a minor in laser physics in 1978.
In August of 1979, Bluford became a NASA astronaut and later, a veteran of four spaceflights. Bluford was assigned to a variety of technical assignments which included the space station operations, the Remote Manipulator System, Spacelab systems and experiments, the space shuttle systems, the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory, and the Flight Systems Laboratory.
On his first spaceflight, STS-8, Bluford made history as the first African American in space. Following STS-8, Bluford flew aboard missions STS 61-A, STS-39 and STS-53. Altogether, Bluford logged more than 688 hours in space.