Imagine a black boy, born in wartime-1942, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Much of his choices would have followed that standard list of possibilities available to a black youth of his time. By the time he graduated high school, in 1960, the world may have had, much the same look, but changes were coming.
The idyllic neighborhoods of “Philly”, the 47th St. at Woodland Avenue streetcar (called a “Trolly” in Philadelpia). Hanging out with friends, studying hard, and dreaming. But who’d have thought that Guion was dreaming of outer space? It is very unlikely that he did, one imagines. Then the riots came in 1964. That would likely have occupied his thoughts most.
Now, seventy-three years after his birth, not many people have “Guy’s” name on the tips of their tongues. According to Wikipedia, he participated in four Space Shuttle flights between 1983 and 1992. In 1983, as a member of the crew of the Orbiter Challenger on the mission STS-8, he became the first African American in space, as well as, the second person of African ancestry in space, after Cuban cosmonaut Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez.
He was not only an Astronaut, but a well-educated scholar. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from the Pennsylvania State University in 1964, an Master of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from the U.S. Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) in 1974, a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Aerospace Engineering with a minor in Laser Physics, again from AFIT, in 1978, and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Houston–Clear Lake in 1987. He has also attended the Wharton School of Business of the University of Pennsylvania.
Bluford attended pilot training at Williams Air Force Base, and received his pilot wings in January 1966. He then went to F-4C combat crew training in Arizona and Florida and was assigned to the 557th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam. He flew 144 combat missions, 65 of which were over North Vietnam.
“The sad thing about a shuttle mission is when you hit the point in your checklist when it says 'bring vehicle home. '"
In July 1967, Bluford was assigned to the 3630th Flying Training Wing, Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, as a T-38A instructor pilot. He served as a standardization/evaluation officer and as an assistant flight commander. In early 1971, he attended Squadron Officer School and returned as an executive support officer to the Deputy Commander of Operations and as School Secretary for the Wing.
In August 1972, Bluford entered the U.S. Air Force Institute of Technology residency school at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. 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 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. He 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/TR-1, and F-5A/B aircraft, including 1,300 hours as a T-38 instructor pilot. He also has an FAA commercial pilot license.
He remains in the annuls of American history, as an excellent pilot, astronaut, and history-making Shuttle crew member after making his record-setting first space mission. Bluford was chosen to become a NASA astronaut in August 1979 out of thousands of possible candidates.
His technical assignments have included working with Space Station operations, the Remote Manipulator System (RMS), Spacelab systems and experiments, Space Shuttle 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-61-A, STS-39, and STS-53.
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. 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, California, on September 5, 1983.
In his day, his name was well-known, due to his a groundbreaking notoriety and qualifications. It is clear that his participation, and excellence, in our nation’s space program opened doors for the likes of the many other African-American astronauts such as these fourteen African Americans have traveled into outer space: Ronald McNair (who died in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986), Frederick Gregory, Charles F, Bolden, Mae Jemison (First female African-American in space), Bernard A. Harris, Jr (First African-American to walk in space), Winston E. Scott, Robert Curbeam, Michael P. Anderson, Stephanie Wilson, Joan Higgenbotham, B. Alvin Drew, Leland D. Melvin, and Robert Satcher.
These six African American Astronauts have not traveled into space at the time of this article: Robert Henry Lawrence, Jr., Livingston Holder, Michael E. Belt, Yvonne Cagle, Jeannete J. Epps, and Victor J. Glover.
As for our Guy, he married Linda Tull in 1964 and has two sons, Guion III and James(Wiki).
He has a legacy of incredible importance, and honor--- in service to his country, and his love of manned space flight.
I wonder how many little boys today, dream of space flight, as a result of the strides that he, and all the other African-American space pioneers have made in history! The entire universe is in their hands, and at their disposal... SOURCE