Getty Images
Getty Images

Guion Bluford Became First African American Astronaut More Than 30 Years Ago — Meet the Icon

Edduin Carvajal
May 31, 2020
09:00 A.M.
Share this pen

Former astronaut Guion Bluford, also known as Guy, was the first African American man in space. It's been over three decades since that happened, but his legacy is still alive.


Born in November 1942, Guion Bluford Jr. worked hard to accomplish such a remarkable milestone. He got an undergraduate degree in aerospace engineering from Penn State in 1964 and made it into the US Air Force.

He is one of the most important Black astronauts in history.

Guion Bluford Jr. at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on April 28, 1991 | Photo: Getty Images

Guion Bluford Jr. at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on April 28, 1991 | Photo: Getty Images



Once there, he became a fighter pilot who achieved 144 combat missions in the middle of the Vietnam War. While Guion's curriculum was already impressive, he didn't stop there.

In fact, he earned a doctorate in aerospace engineering in 1978 from the Air Force Institute of Technology.


Due to all academic knowledge and field experience as a pilot, Guion was one of the 35 people selected by NASA in its first space shuttle astronaut competition. Apart from him, two other Black people made it into that year's training program.

The engineer explained that the three of them knew that at least one would become the first Black astronaut in space, adding that he probably told others that he preferred to be the second one as it would be "a lot more fun."



As explained in the NASA's website, Guion's initial goal was to make a contribution to the program. Fortunately, his big moment came on August 30, 1983.

In the middle of a heavy thunderstorm that threatened to postpone the mission, Guion and a crew of astronauts rode into Earth's orbit on the shuttle orbiter Challenger. Their goal: deploying an Indian communication satellite.


They accomplished their objective and came back to our planet on September 5. Earlier this year, Guion Bluford was in an interview with meteorologist Paul Goodloe for the Weather Channel on YouTube to share some details of his time as a NASA astronaut.

The aerospace engineer revealed that he felt as if it was his duty to do an excellent job in order to open up opportunities for other Black people in the area.



He added that he always wanted to set the standard that Black people were very competent. NASA administrator Charles Bolden pointed out that Guion helped break the color barrier in the field, adding:

"Guy came in with a Ph.D., fighter pilot in the Air Force. He had all the credentials and didn't need to explain anything to anybody."


Charles then confessed that the former astronaut was a mentor and role model not only to him as a Black man, but also to "everyone who saw him" fulfill such an incredible feat.

Guion also remarked during the interview that he was the first Black person to fly into space four times, totaling 688 hours in orbit by the time of his retirement back in 1993. After that, he pursued a private-sector career in the field of information technology and engineering services.



He revealed that one of the things that shocked him the most was the shuttle, mainly because he was in it while going at "18,000 miles an hour." As per what Guion wants his legacy to be, he said:

"That I left behind a world that's enriched by what I've done."


Due to his outstanding work as an astronaut, he was inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame in 1997. Apart from that, the US Astronaut Hall of Fame also inducted him in 2010.

Guion Bluford's most recent recognition came in 2019 when he was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame. At the moment, he is 77 years old, and he will always be remembered as one of the most important Black astronauts in history.

Please fill in your e-mail so we can share with you our top stories!
By subscribing, you agree to our Privacy Policy
Related posts

Martina McBride Cried on Shoulder of Man Living in a Warehouse, Not Knowing He Would Be Her Husband for Decades

May 18, 2022

Ken Jennings Took 9 Months to Ask Wife for a Date - To Avoid Divorce He Told Her His Secrets about 'Jeopardy!'

April 12, 2022

Tyler Perry Was Broke Living in His Car - He Recalls in Tears That He Was Only 'Praying & Believing’

February 23, 2022

Jon Bon Jovi Has Been Married to His Wife for 33 Years and Is a Proud Father of 4

March 01, 2022

Michelle Obama Felt ‘Lost & Alone’ as She Could Not Conceive at 35 - She Described Having a Baby as ‘Magical'

March 12, 2022

Oprah & Stedman Enjoy Their Unconventional Relationship 30 Years after His Proposal That Never Led to Marriage

February 06, 2022

Julia Louis-Dreyfus & Brad Hall Are Still Going Strong after 34 Years of Marriage & Are Proud Parents of 2

March 20, 2022

Bruno Mars Had to Live In a Zoo After Parents’ Divorce – He Slept in 1 Bed With His Dad & Brother

April 05, 2022

Who Is Bokeem Woodbine’s Wife? Meet the ‘Halo’ Star’s Spouse Who Supports Him in His Career

April 19, 2022

Crying Soldier Is Late for Flight, Staff Tenses as Voice Says, ‘Don’t Let Him Get on the Plane!’ – Story of the Day

May 24, 2022

Samuel L Jackson & Wife Are Married for 41 Years & 'Still Love Each Other' Though They Took 10 Years to Wed

March 10, 2022

Julia Roberts' Ex Lyle Lovett Who Was Mocked for His Looks Fathered Twins at 60 & Realized Age Was Relevant

May 20, 2022

Minnie Riperton Took Last Breath in Her Husband's Arms at 31 — Inside Their Interracial Marriage

April 26, 2022

Bobby Sherman Sacrificed His Music Career to Save Lives & Be a Family Man

March 22, 2022