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In the countdown to BEYA 33, we’re revisiting the achievements of remarkable men and women, then and now, who have been named Black Engineer of the Year.

The top honoree in 1991 was Guion “Guy” Stewart Bluford, the fifth person to receive the Black Engineer of the Year Award. Here are 10 things you need to know about the first African American astronaut in space.

  • On August 30, 2018, the Great Lakes Science Center in Cleveland, Ohio honored the retired Air Force officer, astronaut, and aerospace executive Dr. Guion S. Bluford, Jr. with a special Award of Distinction, and unveiled an exhibit dedicated to him in the NASA Glenn Visitor Center.
  • The day marked the 35th anniversary of Bluford’s first space shuttle flight, which launched him into orbit and into the history books.
  • On August 30, 1983, STS-8, a space shuttle Challenger mission, took off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. It carried Bluford and four other astronauts into orbit around the Earth. The crew deployed the Indian National Satellite (INSAT-1B) and operated a Canadian-built remote manipulator system. The shuttle completed 98 orbits around the Earth before landing at Edwards Air Force Base in southern California.
  • Bluford went on to fly on three additional shuttle missions, including two aboard the space shuttle Discovery.
  • Bluford left NASA in July 1993 and retired from the Air Force. He went on to a successful career as an aerospace executive supporting the NASA Glenn Research Center
  • In 2002, he became President of the Aerospace Technology Group, an engineering consulting organization in Cleveland, Ohio.
  • A longtime resident of Northeast Ohio, Bluford graduated from Penn State University in 1964 as a distinguished Air Force ROTC graduate.
  • He attended pilot training at Williams Air Force Base, Arizona, and received his pilot wings in January 1966.
  • Bluford flew 144 combat missions, 65 of which were over North Vietnam. In 1974,  he graduated from the Air Force Institute of Technology residency school at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.
  • He logged more than 5,200 hours jet flight time, including 1,300 hours as a T-38 instructor pilot. He also has an FAA commercial pilot license and is a certified scuba diver.


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