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Guion Bluford

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Title: Guion Bluford  
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Subject: NASA Astronaut Group 8, Dale Gardner, List of astronauts by year of selection, Recipients of the Legion of Merit, Bluford
Collection: 1942 Births, African-American Engineers, African-American Scientists, Air Force Institute of Technology Alumni, American Astronauts, American Military Personnel of the Vietnam War, Eagle Scouts, Living People, Pennsylvania State University Alumni, People from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Recipients of the Air Medal, Recipients of the Defense Superior Service Medal, Recipients of the Gallantry Cross (Vietnam), Recipients of the Legion of Merit, Recipients of the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, Recipients of the NASA Exceptional Service Medal, Recipients of the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, United States Air Force Astronauts, United States Air Force Officers, United States Astronaut Hall of Fame Inductees, University of Houston–clear Lake Alumni
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Guion Bluford

Guion S. Bluford, Jr.
NASA Astronaut
Nationality American
Status Retired
Born (1942-11-22) November 22, 1942
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Other names
Guion Stewart Bluford, Jr.
Other occupation
Fighter pilot, engineer
Penn State, B.S. 1964
AFIT, M.S. 1974, Ph.D. 1978
UHCL, MBA 1987
Rank Colonel, USAF
Time in space
28d 16h 33m
Selection 1978 NASA Group 8
Missions STS-8, STS-61-A , STS-39, STS-53
Mission insignia

Guion Stewart Bluford, Jr., Ph.D. (born November 22, 1942), (Col, USAF, Ret.), is an American aerospace engineer, retired U.S. Air Force officer and fighter pilot, and former NASA astronaut, who was the first African American in space.[1] Before becoming an astronaut, he was a Colonel in the U.S. Air Force. 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 as well as the second person of African ancestry in space, after Cuban cosmonaut Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez.


  • Biography 1
    • Early years 1.1
    • Air Force service 1.2
    • NASA career 1.3
    • Post-NASA career 1.4
  • Organizations 2
  • Awards and decorations 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Early years

Bluford was born November 22, 1942, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and graduated from Overbrook High School in 1960. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from the Pennsylvania State University in 1964, an 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.[2] He has also attended the Wharton School of Business of the University of Pennsylvania.

His hobbies include reading, swimming, jogging, racquetball, handball, scuba diving and golf. He married Linda Tull in 1964 and has two sons, Guion III and James.[3]

Air Force service

Bluford attended pilot training at Williams Air Force Base, and received his pilot wings in January 1966. He then went to F-4C combat crew training in Arizona and Florida and was assigned to the 557th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam. He flew 144 combat missions, 65 of which were over North Vietnam.

In July 1967, Bluford was assigned to the 3630th Flying Training Wing, Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, as a T-38A instructor pilot. He served as a standardization/evaluation officer and as an assistant flight commander. In early 1971, he attended Squadron Officer School and returned as an executive support officer to the Deputy Commander of Operations and as School Secretary for the Wing.

In August 1972, Bluford entered the U.S. Air Force Institute of Technology residency school at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. Upon graduating in 1974 with his master's degree,[4] he was assigned to the Air Force Flight Dynamics Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base as a staff development engineer. He served as deputy for advanced concepts for the Aeromechanics Division and as branch chief of the Aerodynamics and Airframe Branch in the Laboratory. He has written and presented several scientific papers in the area of computational fluid dynamics.

He has logged over 5,200 hours of jet flight time in the T-33, T-37, T-38, F-4C, U-2/TR-1, and F-5A/B aircraft, including 1,300 hours as a T-38 instructor pilot. He also has an FAA commercial pilot license.

NASA career

Astronaut candidates Ron McNair, Guy Bluford, and Fred Gregory wearing Apollo spacesuits, May 1978

Bluford was chosen to become a NASA astronaut in August 1979[2] out of thousands of possible candidates. His technical assignments have included working with Space Station operations, the Remote Manipulator System (RMS), Spacelab systems and experiments, Space Shuttle systems, payload safety issues and verifying flight software in the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory (SAIL) and in the Flight Systems Laboratory (FSL). Bluford was a mission specialist on STS-8, STS-61-A, STS-39, and STS-53.[4]

Bluford's first mission was STS-8, which launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on August 30, 1983. This was the third flight for the Orbiter Challenger and the first mission with a night launch and night landing. During the mission, the STS-8 crew deployed the Indian National Satellite (INSAT-1B); operated the Canadian-built RMS with the Payload Flight Test Article (PFTA); operated the Continuous Flow Electrophoresis System (CFES) with live cell samples; conducted medical measurements to understand biophysiological effects of space flight; and activated four "Getaway Special" canisters. STS-8 completed 98 orbits of the Earth in 145 hours before landing at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on September 5, 1983.

Bluford on STS-8 in 1983

Bluford then served on the crew of STS-61-A, the German D-1 Spacelab mission, which launched from Kennedy Space Center on October 30, 1985. This mission was the first to carry eight crew members, the largest crew to fly in space and included three European payload specialists. This was the first dedicated Spacelab mission under the direction of the German Aerospace Research Establishment (DFVLR) and the first U.S. mission in which payload control was transferred to a foreign country (German Space Operations Center, Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany). During the mission, the Global Low Orbiting Message Relay Satellite (GLOMR) was deployed from a "Getaway Special" (GAS) container, and 76 experiments were performed in Spacelab in such fields as fluid physics, materials processing, life sciences, and navigation. After completing 111 orbits of the Earth in 169 hours, Challenger landed at Edwards Air Force Base on November 6, 1985.

Bluford also served on the crew of STS-39, which launched from Kennedy Space Center on April 28, 1991, aboard the Orbiter Discovery. The crew gathered aurora, Earth-limb, celestial, and Shuttle environment data with the AFP-675 payload. This payload consisted of the Cryogenic Infrared Radiance Instrumentation for Shuttle (CIRRIS-1A) experiment, Far Ultraviolet Camera experiment (FAR UV), the Uniformly Redundant Array (URA), the Quadrupole Ion Neutral Mass Spectrometer (QINMS), and the Horizon Ultraviolet Program (HUP) experiment. The crew also deployed and retrieved the SPAS-II which carried the Infrared Background Signature Survey (IBSS) experiment. The crew also operated the Space Test Payload-1 (STP-1) and deployed a classified payload from the Multi-Purpose Experiment Canister (MPEC). After completing 134 orbits of the Earth and 199 hours in space, Discovery landed at the Kennedy Space Center on May 6, 1991.

Bluford's last mission was STS-53, which launched from Kennedy Space Center on December 2, 1992. The crew of five deployed the classified Department of Defense payload DOD-1 and then performed several Military-Man-in-Space and NASA experiments. After completing 115 orbits of the Earth in 175 hours, Discovery landed at Edwards Air Force Base on December 9, 1992.

With the completion of his fourth flight, Bluford has logged over 688 hours in space.

Bluford, an Eagle Scout, was designated as the emissary to return the Challenger flag to Boy Scout Troop 514 of Monument, Colorado in December, 1986. On December 18 of that year, he presented the flag to the troop in a special ceremony at Falcon Air Force Base.

Post-NASA career

Bluford left NASA in July 1993 to take the post of Cleveland, Ohio.

Bluford was inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame in 1997,[4] and inducted into the United States Astronaut Hall of Fame in 2010.[5]

In 2002, scholar Molefi Kete Asante listed Bluford on his list of 100 Greatest African Americans.[6] In 2006, Bluford was recognized as a distinguished alumnus of Penn State by being selected as the Grand Marshal for his alma mater's Homecoming celebration.[7]


Bluford is a member and a fellow of many organizations: Fellow, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics; Board of Governors, National Space Club (1997 to 2001); Board of Directors, National Inventor's Hall of Fame Foundation (1997 to 2002); Board of Directors, The Western Reserve Historical Society (1997 to 2003); Board of Directors, The Great Lakes Science Center (1997 to 2003); National Research Council (NRC) Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board, (1993 to 1998); Board of Directors, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, (1995 to 2001); Board of Directors, U.S. Space Foundation (2000 to 2006); Life Director; Board of Directors, ENSCO Inc., (2005 to present); Board of Trustees, The Aerospace Corporation (1999 to 2008); Executive Director of Investigative Activities, Columbia Accident Investigation Board (2003); Society of Distinguished Alumni, Pennsylvania State University (1986 to present); Committee on Minority Activities, College of Engineering, Pennsylvania State University (1986 to 2006); Leadership Cleveland (1995 to present); Board of Visitors, Hiram College, (2004 to 2009); Board of Advisors, Coalition for Space Exploration (2006 to 2010); Tau Beta Pi; Omicron Delta Kappa; Sigma Iota Epsilon; National Technical Association and Tuskegee Airmen.

Awards and decorations

He also received honorary doctorate degrees from Drexel University, Kent State University, Central State University and the University of the Sciences.

See also


  1. ^ Launius, Roger D. (2004). Frontiers of Space Exploration. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 245.  
  2. ^ a b NASA, Biographical Data, Guion S. Bluford, Jr. (Colonel, USAF, Ret.) NASA Astronaut (former), (accessed 1 May 2013)
  3. ^ "Guy Bluford: Biography from". 
  4. ^ a b c "Guion S. Bluford, Jr. Biography from". 
  5. ^ "2010 U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame Induction Gala". Astronaut Scholarship Foundation. Retrieved May 10, 2010. 
  6. ^  
  7. ^ Ranalli, Melanie (19 September 2006). "Penn State astronaut selected homecoming grand marshal".  

External links

  • "Astronaut Bio: Guion S. Bluford, Jr. (10/2009)".  
  • "Guion "Guy" Bluford Biography – NASA Astronaut – First African American In Space".  
  • profile and interviewPenn State African American ChroniclesGuion "Guy" Bluford
  • Conversations from Penn StateGuy Bluford interviewed on

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