The first African-American in space, Guion “Guy” Bluford is being inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame this June, along with three other astronauts.
Bluford joins Ken Bowersox, Frank Culbertson and Kathy Thornton as the ninth class of space shuttle astronauts to be added to the Hall’s Mercury, Gemini and Apollo ranks since 2001. They were chosen by a committee of 80 some NASA officials, historians, journalists and previous members of the Hall of Fame.
Requirements for eligibility called for the astronauts to be U.S. citizens who made their first flight in 1992 or earlier, who’d orbited the Earth at least once, had at least five years experience as a pilot or mission specialist and retired from flight status as a NASA commander. The four 2010 inductees will bring the total number of NASA honorees to 77. This year’s induction ceremony is scheduled for June 5, 2010 at the Kennedy Space Center.
Bluford became the first African-American in space when he joined the crew of the first space shuttle mission to launch and land at night.
“We had to, as a crew, figure out the techniques that were required to launch the thing at night and as well as land the thing at night,” Dr. Bluford told collectSPACE in 2002 on the anniversary of his 1983 STS-8 mission, which was dedicated to deploying a multipurpose India-built satellite and conducting medical measurements to understand the effects of space flight on the human body.
Bluford’s first flight and the three that followed also blazed the path forward into space for African-Americans.
“I feel very proud of being a trailblazer with reference to space flight, particularly for African-Americans,” he said. “I recognize I was one of several African-Americans that came into the program, and I think we have all made significant contributions to the program.”