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Aiming for the stars; the first African-American in space

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Guion S. Blueford Jr. finished his college days Penn State University in 1964 with a B.S. in aerospace engineering as a notable Air Force ROTC graduate. A Philadelphia native, Blueford joined the U.S. Air Force receiving his wings in 1966. He was assigned to the 557th Tactical Fighter Squadron stationed in Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam. Here Guion Blueford successfully flew 144 combat missions, 65 of which took place in hostile North Vietnam. Blueford would later attend Squadron Officers School and in 1972 he entered the Air Force Institute of Technology residency school at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base graduating in 1974. He served as Branch Chief of the Aerodynamics and Airframe Branch in the Laboratory and has written and presented several scientific papers in the area of computational fluid dynamics.

Guion S. Blueford also joined NASA in 1979. His first mission launched on August 30, 1983 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida marking him as the first African-American in space. His flight was the third for the orbiter Challenger and the very first launching and landing that took place at night. Blueford was part of the STS-8 crew and during this mission the crew deployed the Indian National Satellite (INSAT-1B) and operated the Continuous Flow Electrophoresis System (CFES) with live cell samples. The crew also conducted medical measurements in an effort to better understand the biophysiological effects of spaceflight. The mission successfully completed 98 orbits around the Earth before landing at Edwards Air Force Base in California, on September 5, 1983.

Blueford went on to complete three more successful missions. The crews he had served with lay claim to many achievements including the 1985 German D-1 Spacelab mission which boasts the largest crew to fly in space. This particular mission was the first dedicated Spacelab mission directed by the German Aerospace Research Establishment. It was this mission that deployed the Global Low Orbiting Message Relay Satellite (GLOMR). The German D-1 Spacelab mission crew also preformed 76 experiments in fields such as fluid physics, materials processing, life sciences, and navigation.

During Blueford's final spaceflight he served as part of the STS-53 crew aboard the Discovery. Blueford and his team deployed the classified Department of Defense payload DOD-1 while also preforming several Military-Man-in-Space and NASA experiments. After completing 115 orbits of the Earth the crew landed at Edwards Air Force Base in 1992. Upon his landing Guion S. Blueford logged over 688 hours in space.

Notable scholastic and military achievements lead Guion Blueford to an amazing career as a NASA astronaut, a dream held by many children of all races and walks of life. Guion Blueford paved the way for numerous NASA scientists, astronauts, and engineers of minority backgrounds. He continues to be an inspiration and has since been inducted into both the International Space Hall of Fame and the United States Astronaut Hall of Fame.

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