The Pointe

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#triviatuesday - Who was NASA’s first African-American astronaut and what is his association with Ohio?

Recently we celebrated the first African-American woman in Space, Mae Jemison.  

Therefore, today’s TriviaTuesday question asks:  

Who was NASA’s first African-American astronaut and what is his association with Ohio? 

Answer:  Philadelphian Guion Bluford Jr. “became NASA’s first African-American astronaut to fly in space in 1983...From August 30 to September 5, 1983, Bluford...was a mission specialist on the second flight of the space shuttle Challenger.” It would be the first of his four spaceflights. 

GUY b.jpeg

The 1964 Penn State alumnus and “distinguished Air Force ROTC graduate” had received his “pilot’s wings” in 1966. After combat training, he was assigned to a Tactical Fighter Squadron in Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam. He flew 144 combat missions, 65 of which were over North Vietnam...”  

In August 1972, Bluford entered the Air Force Institute of Technology residency school at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in the Dayton, Ohio, area.  

Upon graduating in 1974, he was assigned to Wright-Patt's Air Force Flight Dynamics Laboratory as a staff development engineer. He also served as deputy for advanced concepts for the Aeromechanics Division and as branch chief of the Aerodynamics and Airframe Branch in the Laboratory.  

Looking back on his Space milestone/first,“Bluford, one of three African-Americans in [a] 1978 barrier-breaking class of astronauts,”(*) said he believed “he was selected for the history-making mission because of his complement of pilot and engineering experience.” 

In 1993, following an illustrious career, Air Force Colonel Bluford retired from both the military and NASA.  

But his interest in technology, engineering and aerospace remained, leading him to positions at several companies, including the Aerospace Technology Group in Cleveland.  

In honor of his many accomplishments, Bluford was inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame and the United States Astronaut Hall of Fame. 

This man of many interests had also earned an FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) commercial pilot’s license and a scuba diving certification.  

(*) The other African-Americans were former NASA Deputy Administrator Fred Gregory and Challenger Astronaut, the late Ron McNair) 

 Sources: 

“Funk & Wagnall’s New World Encyclopedia.” Available online via MidPointe Library’s eLibrary: 

www.midpointelibrary.org > eLibrary > Research Databases > Reference > “Funk & Wagnall’s New World Encyclopedia”

NASA Biographical Data: https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/bluford_guion.pdf 

NASA History: ”Guy Bluford Remembered 30 Years Later”: 

https://www.nasa.gov/vision/space/workinginspace/bluford_1st_african_amer.html  

If you love Space, you’re going to enjoy “A Universe of Stories” at MidPointe Library’s Summer Reading Program for all ages! It’s going on now at all MidPointe locations! 

You’ll find a MidPointe Library in Middletown, West Chester, Trenton, Monroe, Liberty Township (2nd floor, Liberty Center) and onboard our traveling Library On Wheels, formerly known as the Bookmobile. 

While you’re here peruse our on-shelf collection of Space material! Or, from the comfort of home, check out our voluminous e-library of all-things-Space and anything else that interests you! All you need is a MidPointe Library card! It’s your key to:

www.midpointelibrary.org > eLibrary > eAudiobooks, eBooks, eMagazines, Movies and TV Shows, Music, Research Databases, Digital Archives. 

No library card? No problem! Sign up for your free card at any MidPointe location! 

In the meantime, keep looking skyward! You just might witness history!