This week’s open threads are highlighting the accomplishments of African-Americans in Aviation and Space.
Dr. Guion Stewart “Guy” Bluford, Jr. (born November 22, 1942), is an engineer, retired Colonel from the United States Air Force and a former NASA astronaut. 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, and the second person of African ancestry, after the Cuban cosmonaut Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez.
Bluford was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, graduated from Overbrook High School. He received a B.S. in aerospace engineering from the Pennsylvania State University in 1964, an M.S. in aerospace engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) in 1974, a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering with a minor in laser physics, again from AFIT, in 1978, and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Houston–Clear Lake in 1987. He married Linda Tull in 1964 and has two sons, Guion III and James.
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 August 1972, he entered the Air Force Institute of Technology residency school at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. Upon graduating in 1974 with his master’s degree, he was assigned to the Air Force Flight Dynamics Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, 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. Bluford has written and presented several scientific papers in the area of computational fluid dynamics. He also has an FAA commercial pilot license.
Bluford became a NASA astronaut in August 1979. Out of thousands of possible astronaut candidates, only 36 were chosen, and Guion was one of them. 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.
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 atEdwards Air Force Base, California, 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, Florida, 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). After completing 111 orbits of the Earth in 169 hours, Challenger landed at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on November 6, 1985.
Bluford’s last mission was STS-53, which launched from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on December 2, 1992. The crew of five deployed the classified Department of Defensepayload 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, California, on December 9, 1992.
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.
Bluford left NASA in July 1993 to take the post of Vice President/General Manager, Engineering Services Division of NYMA, Greenbelt, Maryland. In May, 1997, he became Vice President of the Aerospace Sector of Federal Data Corporation and in October, 2000, became the Vice President of Microgravity R&D and Operations for the Northrop GrummanCorporation. He retired from Northrop Grumman in September, 2002 to become the President of Aerospace Technology, an engineering consulting organization in Cleveland, Ohio.
He was inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame in 1997, and inducted into the United States Astronaut Hall of Fame in 2010.
In 2002, scholar Molefi Kete Asante listed Bluford on his list of 100 Greatest African Americans. 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.
*** All information courtesy of Wikipedia.org***