Major Robert Lawrence was the first African-American
selected to be an astronaut. He was selected to be an astronaut
in a proposed Air Force space program called the Manned Orbiting
Major Lawrence died in a plane crash during
a training mission in 1967, however. This occurred before he
had an opportunity to fly into space.
Note that the Manned Orbiting Laboratory
program eventually was canceled.
Guion Bluford was the first African-American
astronaut to orbit the Earth. He was born November 22, 1942,
in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was also a colonel in the U.S.
Air Force. He flew as a mission specialist on the Space Shuttle
Challenger from August 30 to September 5, 1983.
This mission was called STS-8. It was
the first night launch of a shuttle, as well as the first night
Guion Bluford also flew on three other
shuttle missions: STS-61A, STS-39, and STS-53. He is currently
the vice president and general manager of an engineering company
Ronald McNair was the second African-American
astronaut to orbit the Earth. He was an MIT physicist. He flew
on the Space Shuttle Challenger in February 1984. He was later
killed with six other astronauts in the Challenger disaster in
January 28, 1986.
Dr. Mae C. Jemison was the first African-America
woman in space. She flew on the Space Shuttle Endeavour, on the
STS-47 mission. This mission was launched on September 12, 1992.
Dr. Jemison was born October 17, 1956,
in Decatur, Alabama. She earned a a doctorate in medicine degree
from Cornell University in 1981. She served as the Area Peace
Corps Medical Officer for Sierra Leone and Liberia in West Africa.
BERNARD HARRIS JR.
Dr. Harris was the first African-American
to walk in space. He accomplished this
on the STS-63 mission, which was carried out February 2-11, 1995.
Mission highlights included the rendezvous with the Russian Space
Station, Mir, operation of a variety of investigations in the
Spacehab module, and the deployment and retrieval of Spartan
In addition, Dr. Harris was a mission specialist on the STS-55
mission in 1993.
Dr. Harris earned a doctorate in medicine from Texas Tech University
School of Medicine in 1982.