NTEU Highlights First African-American Astronaut

Guion Stewart Bluford, Jr.

This is part of a series of blog posts highlighting African Americans in science, technology, engineering and mathematics as part of NTEU’s celebration of Black History Month.

Guion Stewart Bluford, Jr., beat the odds.

In 1979, Bluford was chosen from 10,000 applicants to become a NASA astronaut. 

Five years later, Bluford flew aboard the Challenger and assisted with the deployment of an Indian communications satellite and the first night launch and landing of a space shuttle.

Before becoming an astronaut, Bluford earned a Doctor of Philosophy in Aerospace Engineering with a minor in laser physics from the Air Force Institute of Technology. And as an Air Force officer and fighter pilot, he flew 144 combat missions during the Vietnam War.

"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," said Bluford, who flew four shuttle missions.