Guion Bluford was born in 1942 in Philadelphia. He is the USA’s first black astronaut to travel in space, journeying four times, logging nearly 700 hours in orbit as a mission specialist on the Space Shuttles Challenger and Discovery. He holds a PhD in aerospace engineering, with a minor in laser physics, from the Air Force Institute of Technology, and he has flown over 5,200 hours as a jet pilot.
In 1983 he was a mission specialist on the first night launch of the space shuttle Challenger from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. His training as an engineer/scientist and in the Air Force learning to pilot planes in Vietnam helped prepare him for his history-making career. Bluford reminds youth that society is very rich in opportunities and he encourages more minority students to pursue careers in science and engineering. “I had to work hard for success. It was the only way I could achieve what I wanted. I also learned to be persistent and not let intermediate failures deter me from achieving a long-term goal,” he told me. In 1993 he retired from NASA to work in the private sector.
Read more about Guion Bluford in our exclusive interview only available in my book, And Still We Rise.