A Look Back in History: Guion S. Bluford — The First African-American Man in Space

Guion S. Bluford was born in Philadelphia on Nov. 22, 1942. He became the first African-American to travel into space on Aug. 30, 1983. He served as a mission specialist aboard the space shuttle Challenger.

Bluford has multiple degrees in science and engineering. They include a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from Pennsylvania State University in 1964, a master’s with distinction in aerospace engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology in 1974 and a Ph.D.

In 1993, Bluford left the Air Force and NASA. Four years later, he was inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame. On June 5, 2010, he was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame.

Bluford led the way for many Black men and women to journey into space. Astronauts Ronald McNair, Charles F. Bolden Jr. and Frederick D. Gregory gained leadership roles on their missions. Mae Jemison was the first African-American woman in space. Other astronauts benefitting from Bluford’s legacy include Bernard A. Harris Jr., Winston E. Scott, Robert Curbeam, Michael P. Anderson, Stephanie Wilson, Joan Higginbotham, B. Alvin Drew, Leland D. Melvin and Robert Satcher.