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History – Robert Henry Lawrence & Jr.Guion Bluford

July 5th, 2011 by Black Gospel Choir

The First Black Astronaut
October 2, 1935 – December 8, 1967

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He was senior USAF pilot, accumulating well over 2,500 flight hours—2,000 of which were in jets. Lawrence flew many tests in the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter to investigate the gliding flight of various unpowered spacecraft returning to Earth from orbit, such as the North American X-15 rocket-plane. NASA cited Lawrence for accomplishments and flight maneuver data that “contributed greatly to the development of the Space Shuttle.”
In June 1967, Lawrence successfully completed the Air Force Flight Test Pilot Training School at Edwards AFB, California. That same month he was selected by the USAF as an astronaut in the Air Force’s Manned Orbital Laboratory Program, thus becoming the first African-American astronaut candidate.
At the age of 16, he graduated in the top 10 percent from Englewood High School in Chicago. At the age of 20, he graduated from Bradley University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry.
After entering the U.S. Air Force, the 21 year old he was designated as a pilot after completing flight training at Malden Air Force Base.
He married Barbara Cress, daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Henry Cress of Chicago and at 25, he had completed an Air Force assignment as an instructor pilot in the T-33 training aircraft for the German Air Force.

Lawrence was killed on December 8, 1967, in the crash of an F-104 Starfighter at Edwards Air Force Base, California.

The First Black Astronaut to go up in space

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Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on November 22, 1942. He was one of the four kids born to Guion Sr., a mechanical engineer and Lolita,a special education teacher. He graduated from Overbrook Senior High School in Philadelphia, in 1960, and obtained a Bachelors degree in Aerospace Engineering from Pennsylvania State University in 1964. Later, the same year, he married Linda Tull. The couple has two sons; Guion III and James.
Bluford’s first mission was STS-8 aboard Space Shuttle Challenger. It was Challenger’s first mission with night launching and night landing. The shuttle was launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, on August 30, 1983. Challenger landed at the Edwards Air Base in California on September 5, 1983, after completing 98 orbits of the Earth in 145 hours. He participated as a mission specialist in four missions, commissioned by NASA between 1983 and 1993. By the end of his fourth mission, Guion had completed 688 hours in space.

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