Guion Stewart Bluford Jr., Ph.D

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 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.[2] He has also attended the Wharton School of Business of the University of Pennsylvania.

 

Air Force service

Bluford attended pilot training at Williams Air Force Base, and received his pilot wings in January 1966. He was assigned to the 557th Tactical Fighter SquadronCam Ranh BayVietnam. He flew 144 combat missions, 65 of which were over North Vietnam.

In July 1967, Bluford was assigned to the 3630th Flying Training WingSheppard Air Force BaseTexas, as a T-38 A 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 BaseOhio. 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 Air frame Branch in the Laboratory. He has written and presented several scientific papers in the area of computational fluid dynamics.

NASA career

Bluford was chosen to become a NASA astronaut in August 1979 out of thousands of possible candidates and became the first African American to experience space travel. 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'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. STS-8 completed 98 orbits of the Earth in 145 hours before landing at Edwards Air Force BaseCalifornia, on September 5, 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 CenterOberpfaffenhofen, Germany). 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. 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.

Post-NASA career

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]

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