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Guion “Guy” Stewart Bluford Jr. (born November 22, 1942), is an aerospace engineer, retired Air Force pilot and officer, and a former NASA astronaut.
In 1983, he was the first African American to travel into space, where he served as a mission specialist aboard the space shuttle Challenger. The spacecraft took off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida; the mission completed 98 orbits of the Earth in 145 hours while Bluford and crew conducted several biophysiological experiments, before landing at Edwards Air Force Base in California. He went on to complete three more NASA missions.
Bluford has been awarded numerous medals, awards and honors over the years. He was inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame in 1997 and the United States Astronaut Hall of Fame in 2010.
Before joining NASA, he was an Air Force pilot, flying over 100 combat missions during the Vietnam War. He was awarded the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm.
“I felt an awesome responsibility, and I took the responsibility very seriously, of being a role model and opening another door to black Americans, but the important thing is not that I am black, but that I did a good job as a scientist and an astronaut. There will be black astronauts flying in later missions … and they, too, will be people who excel, not simply who are black . . . who can ably represent their people, their communities, their country.” – Guion Bluford