Black in the Day…To Infinity and Beyond

November 22, 1942:

On this day, the first Black person to ever go into outer space was born.

Guion Stewart Bluford Jr.Ph.D. (born November 22, 1942), (ColUSAF, Ret.), is an American aerospace engineer, retired U.S. Air Force officer and fighter pilot, and former NASA astronaut, who is the first African American[1][2][a] and the second person of African descent to go to space. Before becoming an astronaut, he was an officer in the U.S. Air Force, where he remained while assigned to NASA, rising to the rank of colonel. He participated in four Space Shuttle flights between 1983 and 1992. In 1983, as a member of the crew of the Orbiter Challenger on the mission STS-8, he became the first African American in space.

Born in PhiladelphiaPennsylvania, Bluford graduated from Overbrook High School in 1960. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in aerospace engineering from Pennsylvania State University in 1964, a Master of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from the U.S. Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) in 1974, a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Aerospace Engineering with a minor in Laser Physics, again from AFIT, in 1978, and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Houston–Clear Lake in 1987.[4] He has also attended the Wharton School of Business of the University of Pennsylvania.[citation needed]

His hobbies include readingswimmingjoggingracquetballhandballscuba diving and golf.[5] He married Linda Tull in 1964 and has two sons, Guion III and James.

Awards and honors

Bluford Drew Jemison STEM Academy West, a Middle/High School in Baltimore, Maryland, is named in his honor (along with Charles Drew and Mae Jemison).

On July 25, 2017, the Philadelphia Orchestra premiered Hold Fast to Dreams, a 25-minute piece for orchestra and choir in four movements, commissioned by the Mann Center for the Performing Arts in honor of Bluford, and written by composer Nolan Williams Jr.

“I wanted to set the standard, do the best job possible so that other people would be comfortable with African-Americans flying in space and African-Americans would be proud of being participants in the space program and … encourage others to do the same.” – Guion Bluford

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