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Guion Bluford

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February 9, 2013 by DBN & Team N.A.M.E.S.

Celebrate Black History

Guion BlufordDr. Guion Stewart “Guy” Bluford, Jr. (born November 22, 1942), is an engineer, NASA astronaut, and the first African American in space. Before becoming an astronaut, Bluford 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 Space Shuttle Challenger on the mission STS-8, Bluford became the first African American in space as well as the second person of African ancestry in space, after Cuban cosmonaut Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez.

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 NorthVietnam.

After the war, Bluford went to the Air Force Institute of Technology where he received a master’s degree in aerospace engineering in 1974 and went on to earn Ph.D. in that same subject in 1978. Also in 1978, he was picked for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) space program. Bluford made history on August 30, 1983, when the Challenger took off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, making him the first African American to experience space travel. During this mission, he conducted experiments. Bluford joined the crew of three more space missions in 1985, 1991, and 1992.

Bluford retired in 1993 and was inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame in 1997, having logged 688 hours in space during his career. After leaving NASA and the U.S. Air Force, Bluford has worked primarily in the private sector. Over the years, he has worked in the aerospace division of several companies, including Federal Data Corporation and Northrop Grumman. Bluford is currently the president of the Aerospace Technology Group.

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This Day In Black History (Feb. 9): 

1. PULITZER PRIZE WINNING AUTHOR BORN (1944) – Alice Walker, the Pulitzer Prize Winning Author of the Color Purple born in Eatonton, Georgia.

In 1983, The Color Purple won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, making Walker the first African-American woman to win, as well as the National Book Award.

2. INSPIRING BLACK STOCKBROKER BORN (1954) – Stockbroker Chris Gardner born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Gardner is a self-made millionaire, entrepreneur, motivational speaker and philanthropist who, during the early 1980s, struggled with homelessness while raising his young son.

His story is portrayed in the 2006 motion picture The Pursuit of Happyness, starring actor Will Smith.

3. 1ST BLACK TO WALK IN SPACE (1995) – Bernard Harris becomes the first African-American to walk in space

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Submitted by:

Dwayne B. Neal Team N.A.M.E.S.
“Knowledge is power, but ACTION is King!”

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