Many of us possess talents and abilities but do not excel because we don't take the chances or act on the challenges that come our way. We need to walk over to the edge of our abilities and then move beyond that edge ... From the outside this can look difficult. However, once you've acquired the skills to perform the task, it seems almost easy. Like most things in life, it's easy if you know how.
—Ronald. E. McNair
Guion S. Bluford became the first African-American to go into space in August 1983 aboard the Challenger. It was the first launch and landing of a space shuttle at night. His mission on this flight included the deployment of an Indian communications satellite. He later served as a mission specialist on Challenger (October 30, 1985) and Discovery (April 28, 1991 and December 2, 1992).
Charles F. Bolden was the pilot on the space shuttle mission aboard the Discovery (April 24, 1990) which launched the Hubble space telescope and set an altitude record at 640 kilometres. He was also the pilot on Columbia (January 12, 1986) and Atlantis (March 24, 1992); and mission commander on Discovery (February 3, 1994).
Frederick D. Gregory became the first African-American Space Commander on the space shuttle mission aboard the Discovery (November 22, 1989) which deployed a satellite for the Department of Defense. On his first space flight, he was the pilot on Challenger (April 29, 1985) and he served as commander on Atlantis (November 24, 1991).
Mae C. Jemison became the first African-American woman to travel in space on the shuttle mission aboard the Endeavor (September 12, 1992), where she conducted experiments to study the effects of zero gravity on people and animals.
Bernard J. Harris became the first African-American to walk in space during the space shuttle Discovery's mission (February 2, 1995), which included a rendezvous with the Russian Space Station, Mir. He was also a mission specialist on Columbia (April 26, 1993), where he conducted research in physical and life sciences.
Ronald E. McNair was one of the seven crew members who were killed when the Challenger exploded 73 seconds after its launch on January 28, 1986. On this mission, he was supposed to carry out extensive studies on Halley's Comet. He previously served on the Challenger (February 3, 1984).
African-American Astronauts, Gail Saunders-Smith, L. Octavia Tripp, Stanley P. Jones. Capstone Press, 1998.
Black Stars in Orbit: NASA's African-American Astronauts, Khephra Burns, William Miles. Gulliver Books, 1995.
Guion Bluford: A Space Biography, Laura S. Jeffrey. Enslow Publishers, 1998.
Mae Jemison: A Space Biography, Della A. Yannuzzi. Enslow Publishers, 1998.
Ronald McNair, Corinne J. Naden, Nathan I. Huggins. Chelsea House Publications, 1991.
Space Challenger: The Story of Guion Bluford, James Haskins, Kathleen Benson. Carolrhoda Books, 1988.
Search for 'African-American Astronauts' on Amazon.com or Amazon.ca.
CNN - First black astronaut honored 30 years after death - December 8, 1997
Frederick D. Gregory Biography
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