Guion Stewart Bluford Jr., Ph.D. is an American aerospace engineer, retired U.S. Air Force officer and fighter pilot, and former NASA astronaut, who was the first African American in space.
Bluford Jr. has an impressive academic career, having received a BS in Aerospace Engineering from the Pennsylvania State University, MS in Aerospace Engineering from the U.S. Air Force Institute of Technology, and his doctorate in Aerospace Engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology with a minor in laser physics. He would also receive a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Houston–Clear Lake.
Bluford Jr. went to pilot training at Williams Air Force Base, Arizona, and received his pilot wings in January 1966. Over his career, he would fly 144 combat missions (65 of which were over North Vietnam) and logged more than 5,200 hours jet flight time in the T-33, T-37, T-38, F-4C, F-15, U-2/TR-1 and F-5A/B, including 1,300 hours as a T-38 instructor pilot. He also has an FAA commercial pilot license and is a certified scuba diver. After an extensive career with the Air force, he retired and was recruited to NASA as an astronaut.
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. In 1985, Bluford flew as a mission specialist on STS-61A, and led the European on-orbit payload team in the training and operations of 76 experiments in the German D-1 Spacelab. Bluford also flew on STS-39 and classified STS-53, a Space Shuttle flight.
With the completion of his fourth flight, Bluford has logged over 688 hours in space.
In 1993, Bluford resigned to become the Vice President of the Engineering Services Division of NYMA Inc, and then became Vice President of the Aerospace Sector of Federal Data Corp as well as the Vice President of Microgravity R&D and Operations for the Northrop Grumman Corporation.
Resources JSC.NASA.gov Wikipedia.com Biography.com