I wanted to set the standard, do the best job possible so that other people would be comfortable with African-Americans flying in space and African-Americans would be proud of being participants in the space program and … encourage others to do the same. - Guion Bluford
Guion Bluford made history on August 30, 1983 when he became the first African American in space, launching into low Earth orbit aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger. He subsequently flew aboard three additional shuttle missions, logging a total of 688 hours in space.
Before joining NASA’s astronaut corps program, Bluford served as a pilot in the U.S. Air Force, where he flew 144 combat missions during the Vietnam War. Following his wartime service, he earned a master's degree in aerospace engineering in 1974, followed by a doctorate in aerospace engineering in 1978.
Bluford became one of 35 individuals selected to enter NASA’s Astronaut Training Program from a pool of 10,000 applicants.