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Guion S. Bluford, Jr.


Guion Bluford

Guion S. Bluford, Jr.

Credits - NASA

Guion “Guy” S. Bluford, Jr. was the first African American astronaut to fly in space. His first space flight was on STS-8, launched August 30, 1983, where he served as a mission specialist. This was the first flight with both a nighttime launch and landing.


Bluford was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on November 22, 1942. He graduated from Overbrook Senior High School in Philadelphia, in 1960; received a bachelor of science degree in aerospace engineering from Pennsylvania State University in 1964. After he graduated, he attended pilot training at Williams Air Force Base, Arizona, and received his pilot wings in January 1966. He then served in Vietnam, flying 144 combat missions. He also served as an instructor pilot and on staff positions in the U.S. Air Force, has logged over 5,200 hours in jet flight time, and has a commercial pilot license.


After the end of the war, he returned to school and earned a master of science degree with distinction in aerospace engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology in 1974; a doctor of philosophy in aerospace engineering with a minor in laser physics from the Air Force Institute of Technology in 1978.


Bluford became a NASA astronaut in August 1979, joining the first astronaut class. He was a mission specialist on STS-8 in 1983, the first mission with a night launch and night landing; STS 61-A in 1985, the German Spacelab mission; STS-39 in 1991; and STS-53 in 1992. With the completion of his fourth flight, Bluford has logged over 688 hours in space. While at NASA, he also earned a master's degree in business in business administration from the University of Houston in 1987.


He has served on numerous professional and academic boards and received many honors and awards from U.S. and foreign civilian and military agencies, professional and civic associations, and academic groups.


Bluford left NASA in 1993 and has worked in private industry since that time.