Guion Bluford
Overview
 
Guion Stewart “Guy” Bluford, Jr. (born November 22, 1942), is an engineer
Engineer
An engineer is a professional practitioner of engineering, concerned with applying scientific knowledge, mathematics and ingenuity to develop solutions for technical problems. Engineers design materials, structures, machines and systems while considering the limitations imposed by practicality,...

, retired Colonel
Colonel
Colonel , abbreviated Col or COL, is a military rank of a senior commissioned officer. It or a corresponding rank exists in most armies and in many air forces; the naval equivalent rank is generally "Captain". It is also used in some police forces and other paramilitary rank structures...

 from the United States Air Force
United States Air Force
The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

 and a former NASA Astronaut
Astronaut
An astronaut or cosmonaut is a person trained by a human spaceflight program to command, pilot, or serve as a crew member of a spacecraft....

. He participated in four Space Shuttle
Space Shuttle
The Space Shuttle was a manned orbital rocket and spacecraft system operated by NASA on 135 missions from 1981 to 2011. The system combined rocket launch, orbital spacecraft, and re-entry spaceplane with modular add-ons...

 flights between 1983 and 1992. In 1983, as a member of the crew of the space shuttle Challenger
Space Shuttle Challenger
Space Shuttle Challenger was NASA's second Space Shuttle orbiter to be put into service, Columbia having been the first. The shuttle was built by Rockwell International's Space Transportation Systems Division in Downey, California...

 on mission STS-8
STS-8
STS-8 was a NASA Space Shuttle mission which launched on 30 August 1983 and landed on 5 September; it conducted the first night launch and night landing of the program, and flew the first African-American astronaut, Guion Bluford...

, Bluford became the first African American
African American
African Americans are citizens or residents of the United States who have at least partial ancestry from any of the native populations of Sub-Saharan Africa and are the direct descendants of enslaved Africans within the boundaries of the present United States...

 in space, and the second person of African ancestry
Black people
The term black people is used in systems of racial classification for humans of a dark skinned phenotype, relative to other racial groups.Different societies apply different criteria regarding who is classified as "black", and often social variables such as class, socio-economic status also plays a...

, after the Cuban cosmonaut Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez
Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez
Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez was the first Cuban citizen and the first person from a country in the Western Hemisphere other than the United States to travel into earth orbit...

.
Bluford was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

, the son of Guion (a mechanical engineer) and Lolita (a special education teacher), and graduated from Overbrook High School
Overbrook High School (Philadelphia)
Overbrook High School is an inner-city, public, four-year secondary school in the Overbrook section of West Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States.-School:...

.
Encyclopedia
Guion Stewart “Guy” Bluford, Jr. (born November 22, 1942), is an engineer
Engineer
An engineer is a professional practitioner of engineering, concerned with applying scientific knowledge, mathematics and ingenuity to develop solutions for technical problems. Engineers design materials, structures, machines and systems while considering the limitations imposed by practicality,...

, retired Colonel
Colonel
Colonel , abbreviated Col or COL, is a military rank of a senior commissioned officer. It or a corresponding rank exists in most armies and in many air forces; the naval equivalent rank is generally "Captain". It is also used in some police forces and other paramilitary rank structures...

 from the United States Air Force
United States Air Force
The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

 and a former NASA Astronaut
Astronaut
An astronaut or cosmonaut is a person trained by a human spaceflight program to command, pilot, or serve as a crew member of a spacecraft....

. He participated in four Space Shuttle
Space Shuttle
The Space Shuttle was a manned orbital rocket and spacecraft system operated by NASA on 135 missions from 1981 to 2011. The system combined rocket launch, orbital spacecraft, and re-entry spaceplane with modular add-ons...

 flights between 1983 and 1992. In 1983, as a member of the crew of the space shuttle Challenger
Space Shuttle Challenger
Space Shuttle Challenger was NASA's second Space Shuttle orbiter to be put into service, Columbia having been the first. The shuttle was built by Rockwell International's Space Transportation Systems Division in Downey, California...

 on mission STS-8
STS-8
STS-8 was a NASA Space Shuttle mission which launched on 30 August 1983 and landed on 5 September; it conducted the first night launch and night landing of the program, and flew the first African-American astronaut, Guion Bluford...

, Bluford became the first African American
African American
African Americans are citizens or residents of the United States who have at least partial ancestry from any of the native populations of Sub-Saharan Africa and are the direct descendants of enslaved Africans within the boundaries of the present United States...

 in space, and the second person of African ancestry
Black people
The term black people is used in systems of racial classification for humans of a dark skinned phenotype, relative to other racial groups.Different societies apply different criteria regarding who is classified as "black", and often social variables such as class, socio-economic status also plays a...

, after the Cuban cosmonaut Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez
Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez
Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez was the first Cuban citizen and the first person from a country in the Western Hemisphere other than the United States to travel into earth orbit...

.

Early years

Bluford was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

, the son of Guion (a mechanical engineer) and Lolita (a special education teacher), and graduated from Overbrook High School
Overbrook High School (Philadelphia)
Overbrook High School is an inner-city, public, four-year secondary school in the Overbrook section of West Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States.-School:...

. He received a B.S.
Bachelor of Science
A Bachelor of Science is an undergraduate academic degree awarded for completed courses that generally last three to five years .-Australia:In Australia, the BSc is a 3 year degree, offered from 1st year on...

 in aerospace engineering
Aerospace engineering
Aerospace engineering is the primary branch of engineering concerned with the design, construction and science of aircraft and spacecraft. It is divided into two major and overlapping branches: aeronautical engineering and astronautical engineering...

 from the Pennsylvania State University
Pennsylvania State University
The Pennsylvania State University, commonly referred to as Penn State or PSU, is a public research university with campuses and facilities throughout the state of Pennsylvania, United States. Founded in 1855, the university has a threefold mission of teaching, research, and public service...

 in 1964, an M.S.
Master of Science
A Master of Science is a postgraduate academic master's degree awarded by universities in many countries. The degree is typically studied for in the sciences including the social sciences.-Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay:...

 in aerospace engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology
Air Force Institute of Technology
The Air Force Institute of Technology is a graduate school and provider of professional and continuing education that is part of the United States Air Force. It is located on Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. A component of Air University and Air Education and Training Command, AFIT has been...

 (AFIT) in 1974, a Ph.D.
Doctor of Philosophy
Doctor of Philosophy, abbreviated as Ph.D., PhD, D.Phil., or DPhil , in English-speaking countries, is a postgraduate academic degree awarded by universities...

 in aerospace engineering with a minor in laser
Laser
A laser is a device that emits light through a process of optical amplification based on the stimulated emission of photons. The term "laser" originated as an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation...

 physics
Physics
Physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.Physics is one of the oldest academic...

, again from AFIT, in 1978, and a Master of Business Administration
Master of Business Administration
The Master of Business Administration is a :master's degree in business administration, which attracts people from a wide range of academic disciplines. The MBA designation originated in the United States, emerging from the late 19th century as the country industrialized and companies sought out...

 from the University of Houston–Clear Lake
University of Houston–Clear Lake
The University of Houston–Clear Lake is a state university, and is a component institution of the University of Houston System. Its campus spans 524-acre in Pasadena, with a satellite campus in Pearland. Founded in 1971, UHCL has an enrollment of more than 8,000 students...

 in 1987. He married Linda Tull in 1964 and had two sons,Guion III and James.

Career

Bluford attended pilot training at Williams Air Force Base
Williams Air Force Base
Williams Air Force Base is a former United States Air Force base, located in Mesa, and about southeast of Phoenix, Arizona.It was active as a training base for both the United States Army Air Forces, as well as the USAF from 1941 until its closure in 1993...

, and received his pilot wings in January 1966. He then went to F-4C
F-4 Phantom II
The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II is a tandem two-seat, twin-engined, all-weather, long-range supersonic jet interceptor fighter/fighter-bomber originally developed for the United States Navy by McDonnell Aircraft. It first entered service in 1960 with the U.S. Navy. Proving highly adaptable,...

 combat crew training in Arizona and Florida
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

 and was assigned to the 557th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Cam Ranh Bay
Cam Ranh Bay
Cam Ranh Bay is a deep-water bay in Vietnam in the province of Khánh Hòa. It is located at an inlet of the South China Sea situated on the southeastern coast of Vietnam, between Phan Rang and Nha Trang, approximately 290 kilometers / 180 miles northeast of Hồ Chí Minh City / Saigon.Cam Ranh is...

, Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

. He flew 144 combat missions, 65 of which were over North Vietnam
North Vietnam
The Democratic Republic of Vietnam , was a communist state that ruled the northern half of Vietnam from 1954 until 1976 following the Geneva Conference and laid claim to all of Vietnam from 1945 to 1954 during the First Indochina War, during which they controlled pockets of territory throughout...

.

In July 1967, he was assigned to the 3,630th Flying Training Wing, Sheppard Air Force Base
Sheppard Air Force Base
Sheppard Air Force Base is a United States Air Force base located five miles north of the central business district of Wichita Falls, in Wichita County, Texas, United States. It is the largest training base and most diversified in Air Education and Training Command...

, Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

, as a T-38A
T-38 Talon
The Northrop T-38 Talon is a twin-engine supersonic jet trainer. It was the world's first supersonic trainer and is also the most produced. The T-38 remains in service as of 2011 in air forces throughout the world....

 instructor pilot. He served as a standardization/evaluation officer and as an assistant flight commander. In early 1971, he attended Squadron Officers School and returned as an executive support officer to the Deputy Commander of Operations and as School Secretary for the Wing.

In August 1972, he entered the Air Force Institute of Technology residency school at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is a United States Air Force base in Greene and Montgomery counties in the state of Ohio. It includes both Wright and Patterson Fields, which were originally Wilbur Wright Field and Fairfield Aviation General Supply Depot. Patterson Field is located approximately...

, Ohio
Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

. 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 has logged over 5,200 hours of jet flight time in the T-33, T-37, T-38, F-4C, U-2
Lockheed U-2
The Lockheed U-2, nicknamed "Dragon Lady", is a single-engine, very high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft operated by the United States Air Force and previously flown by the Central Intelligence Agency . It provides day and night, very high-altitude , all-weather intelligence gathering...

/TR-1, and F-5A/B, including 1,300 hours as a T-38 instructor pilot. He also has an FAA commercial pilot license. Member of the Omega Psi Phi
Omega Psi Phi
Omega Psi Phi is a fraternity and is the first African-American national fraternal organization to be founded at a historically black college. Omega Psi Phi was founded on November 17, 1911, at Howard University in Washington, D.C.. The founders were three Howard University juniors, Edgar Amos...

 fraternity.

NASA

Bluford became a NASA
NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

 astronaut in August 1979. His technical assignments have included working with Space Station operations, the Remote Manipulator System (RMS), Spacelab
Spacelab
Spacelab was a reusable laboratory used on certain spaceflights flown by the Space Shuttle. The laboratory consisted of multiple components, including a pressurized module, an unpressurized carrier and other related hardware housed in the Shuttle's cargo bay...

 systems and experiments, Space Shuttle
Space Shuttle
The Space Shuttle was a manned orbital rocket and spacecraft system operated by NASA on 135 missions from 1981 to 2011. The system combined rocket launch, orbital spacecraft, and re-entry spaceplane with modular add-ons...

 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-8
STS-8 was a NASA Space Shuttle mission which launched on 30 August 1983 and landed on 5 September; it conducted the first night launch and night landing of the program, and flew the first African-American astronaut, Guion Bluford...

, STS-61-A
STS-61-A
STS-61-A was the 22nd mission of NASA's Space Shuttle program. It was a scientific Spacelab mission, funded and directed by West Germany – hence the non-NASA designation of D-1 . STS-61-A was the last successful mission of the Space Shuttle Challenger, which was destroyed during STS-51-L in 1986...

, STS-39
STS-39
-Mission parameters:*Mass:**Orbiter landing with payload: **Payload: *Perigee: *Apogee: *Inclination: 57.0°*Period: 89.6 min-Mission highlights:...

, and STS-53
STS-53
-Mission parameters:*Mass:**Orbiter landing with payload: **Payload: *Perigee: *Apogee: *Inclination: 57.0°*Period: 92.0 min-Mission highlights:...

.

Bluford's first mission was STS-8
STS-8
STS-8 was a NASA Space Shuttle mission which launched on 30 August 1983 and landed on 5 September; it conducted the first night launch and night landing of the program, and flew the first African-American astronaut, Guion Bluford...

, 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. During the mission, the STS-8 crew deployed the Indian National Satellite (INSAT-1B); operated the Canadian-built RMS with the Payload Flight Test Article (PFTA); operated the Continuous Flow Electrophoresis System (CFES) with live cell samples; conducted medical measurements to understand biophysiological effects of space flight; and activated four "Getaway Special" canisters. STS-8 completed 98 orbits of the Earth in 145 hours before landing at Edwards Air Force Base
Edwards Air Force Base
Edwards Air Force Base is a United States Air Force base located on the border of Kern County, Los Angeles County, and San Bernardino County, California, in the Antelope Valley. It is southwest of the central business district of North Edwards, California and due east of Rosamond.It is named in...

, California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

, on September 5, 1983.

Bluford then served on the crew of STS-61-A
STS-61-A
STS-61-A was the 22nd mission of NASA's Space Shuttle program. It was a scientific Spacelab mission, funded and directed by West Germany – hence the non-NASA designation of D-1 . STS-61-A was the last successful mission of the Space Shuttle Challenger, which was destroyed during STS-51-L in 1986...

, the German D-1 Spacelab
Spacelab
Spacelab was a reusable laboratory used on certain spaceflights flown by the Space Shuttle. The laboratory consisted of multiple components, including a pressurized module, an unpressurized carrier and other related hardware housed in the Shuttle's cargo bay...

 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
Oberpfaffenhofen
Oberpfaffenhofen is a village which is part of the municipality of Weßling in the district of Starnberg, Bavaria, Germany. It is 20 kilometers from the city center of Munich....

, Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

). During the mission, the Global Low Orbiting Message Relay Satellite (GLOMR) was deployed from a "Getaway Special
Getaway Special
Getaway Special was a NASA program that offered interested individuals, or groups, opportunities to fly small experiments aboard the Space Shuttle...

" (GAS) container, and 76 experiments were performed in Spacelab in such fields as fluid physics, materials processing, life sciences, and navigation. After completing 111 orbits of the Earth in 169 hours, Challenger
Space Shuttle Challenger
Space Shuttle Challenger was NASA's second Space Shuttle orbiter to be put into service, Columbia having been the first. The shuttle was built by Rockwell International's Space Transportation Systems Division in Downey, California...

 landed at Edwards Air Force Base
Edwards Air Force Base
Edwards Air Force Base is a United States Air Force base located on the border of Kern County, Los Angeles County, and San Bernardino County, California, in the Antelope Valley. It is southwest of the central business district of North Edwards, California and due east of Rosamond.It is named in...

, California, on November 6, 1985.

Bluford also served on the crew of STS-39
STS-39
-Mission parameters:*Mass:**Orbiter landing with payload: **Payload: *Perigee: *Apogee: *Inclination: 57.0°*Period: 89.6 min-Mission highlights:...

, which launched from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on April 28, 1991, aboard the Orbiter Discovery
Space Shuttle Discovery
Space Shuttle Discovery is one of the retired orbiters of the Space Shuttle program of NASA, the space agency of the United States, and was operational from its maiden flight, STS-41-D on August 30, 1984, until its final landing during STS-133 on March 9, 2011...

. The crew gathered aurora, Earth-limb, celestial
Star
A star is a massive, luminous sphere of plasma held together by gravity. At the end of its lifetime, a star can also contain a proportion of degenerate matter. The nearest star to Earth is the Sun, which is the source of most of the energy on Earth...

, and Shuttle environment data with the AFP-675 payload. This payload consisted of the Cryogenic Infrared Radiance Instrumentation for Shuttle (CIRRIS-1A) experiment, Far Ultraviolet Camera experiment (FAR UV), the Uniformly Redundant Array (URA), the Quadrupole Ion Neutral Mass Spectrometer (QINMS), and the Horizon Ultraviolet Program (HUP) experiment. The crew also deployed and retrieved the SPAS-II which carried the Infrared Background Signature Survey (IBSS) experiment. The crew also operated the Space Test Payload-1 (STP-1) and deployed a classified payload from the Multi-Purpose Experiment Canister (MPEC). After completing 134 orbits of the Earth and 199 hours in space, Discovery landed at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on May 6, 1991.

More recently, Bluford served on the crew of STS-53
STS-53
-Mission parameters:*Mass:**Orbiter landing with payload: **Payload: *Perigee: *Apogee: *Inclination: 57.0°*Period: 92.0 min-Mission highlights:...

 which launched from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, 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, California, on December 9, 1992.

With the completion of his fourth flight, Bluford has logged over 688 hours in space.

Bluford left NASA in July 1993 to take the post of Vice President/General Manager, Engineering Services Division of NYMA, Greenbelt, Maryland
Greenbelt, Maryland
Greenbelt is a city in Prince George's County, Maryland, United States. Contained within today's City of Greenbelt is the historic planned community now known locally as "Old Greenbelt" and designated as the Greenbelt Historic District...

. 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 Grumman Corporation. He retired from Northrop Grumman in September, 2002 to become the President of the Aerospace Technology, an engineering consulting organization in Cleveland, Ohio.

He was inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame
International Space Hall of Fame
The New Mexico Museum of Space History is a museum and planetarium complex in Alamogordo, New Mexico, dedicated to artifacts and displays related to space flight and the space age. It includes the International Space Hall of Fame. The Museum of Space History highlights the role that New Mexico has...

 in 1997, and inducted into the United States Astronaut Hall of Fame in 2010.

In 2002, scholar Molefi Kete Asante
Molefi Kete Asante
Molefi Kete Asante is an African-American scholar, historian, and philosopher. He is a leading figure in the fields of African American studies, African Studies and Communication Studies...

 listed Bluford on his list of 100 Greatest African Americans
100 Greatest African Americans
100 Greatest African Americans is a biographical dictionary of the one hundred historically greatest African Americans , as assessed by Molefi Kete Asante in 2002.-Criteria:...

. In 2006, Bluford was recognized as a distinguished alumnus of Penn State
Pennsylvania State University
The Pennsylvania State University, commonly referred to as Penn State or PSU, is a public research university with campuses and facilities throughout the state of Pennsylvania, United States. Founded in 1855, the university has a threefold mission of teaching, research, and public service...

 by being selected as the Grand Marshal for his alma mater's Homecoming celebration.

Bluford, an Eagle Scout, was designated as the emissary to return the Challenger flag
Challenger flag
The Challenger flag is an American flag that was in the flight kit of the final, disastrous Challenger mission. It was sponsored by Boy Scout Troop 514 of Monument, Colorado...

 to Boy Scout Troop 514 of Monument, Colorado
Monument, Colorado
Monument is a growing town situated on the Rampart Range in El Paso County, Colorado, United States. Monument is bordered by Pike National Forest on the west, Colorado Springs and the United States Air Force Academy to the south, foothills and rock outcroppings to the north and rolling plains to...

 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
Schriever Air Force Base
Schriever Air Force Base is a base of the United States Air Force located approximately 10 miles east of Peterson AFB near Colorado Springs in El Paso County, Colorado, United States.-Overview:...

.

External links

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