Guion Bluford is an engineer, retired Colonel from the US Air Force and a former NASA Astronaut. He was born Guion “Guy” Bluford, Jr. on November 22, 1942 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Overbrook High School and then, in 1964, he received a B.S. in aerospace engineering from the Pennsylvania State University. He then married Linda Hull and started his life with her. Together they had two children, Guion III and James. Bluford attended pilot training at Williams Air Force Base, and received his pilot wings in January 1966. He then went to F-4C combat crew training in Arizona and Florida and after was assigned to the 557th Tactical Fighter Squadron in Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam.
In July 1967, Bluford was assigned to the 3,630th Flying Training Wing as a T-38A instructor pilot at Sheppard Air Force Base. He worked as an evaluation officer and as an assistant flight commander. In early 1971, he went to Squadron Officers School and came back as an executive support officer to the Deputy Commander of Operations and as School Secretary for the Wing. In August 1972, he entered the Air Force Institute of Technology residency school at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, where he earned his master’s degree in 1974. After that, he was reassigned to stay at the Air Force Base in the Air Force Flight Dynamics Laboratory as a staff development engineer, where he stayed while he earned a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering with a minor in laser physics in 1976.
Bluford became a NASA astronaut in August 1979. He was initially assigned to technical assignments, including working with Space Station operations, the Remote Manipulator System, Spacelab systems and experiments, Space Shuttle systems, payload safety issues, and verifying flight software in the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory. Bluford’s first mission was aboard the Orbiter Challenger on STS-8, which launched on August 30, 1983 from Kennedy Space Center. During the mission, the crew deployed the Indian National Satellite, controlled the Canadian-built RMS, operated the Continuous Flow Electrophoresis System with live cell samples, and activated four “Getaway Special” canisters. After orbiting the Earth 98 times, the crew landed at Edwards Air Force Base on September 5, 1983.
Bluford was then assigned to STS-61-A and launched on October 30, 1985 from Kennedy Space Center. This mission carried the largest crew to space and was the first dedicated Spacelab mission under the direction of the German Aerospace Research Establishment. During the mission, the crew deployed the Global Low Orbiting Message Relay Satellite from a “Getaway Special” container. Then, almost 80 experiments were conducted in Spacelab for the purpose of researching fluid physics, materials processing, life sciences, and navigation. After completing 111 orbits of the Earth, the Challenger landed at Edwards Air Force Base in California on November 6, 1985. Two years after the mission, Bluford continued his education and earned a Master of Business Administration from the University of Houston”“Clear Lake.
In 1991, Bluford returned to space aboard shuttle Discovery. He served on the crew of STS-39, which launched from the Kennedy Space Center on April 28. The crew gathered a lot of data with the AFP-675 payload, which consisted of the Cryogenic Infrared Radiance Instrumentation. The crew also deployed and recovered the SPAS-II, which carried the Infrared Background Signature Survey experiment. The crew also operated the Space Test Payload-1 and sent out a confidential payload from the Multi-Purpose Experiment Canister. After almost 140 orbits of the Earth, the crew landed safely at the Kennedy Space Center on May 6, 1991. His most recent flight was on the crew of STS-53 aboard shuttle Discovery. The mission launched from the Kennedy Space Center on December 2, 1992, and once in space the crew deployed the classified DOD-1 as well as conducted several Military-Man-in-Space and NASA experiments. After 175 hours in space, Discovery landed at Edwards Air Force Base on December 9, 1992.
After his fourth flight, Bluford left NASA in July 1993 to become the Vice President and General Manager of the Engineering Services Division of NYMA in Greenbelt, Maryland. In May 1997, he was inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame, and that same year he became Vice President of the Aerospace Sector of Federal Data Corporation. Three years later he became the Vice President of Microgravity R&D and Operations for the Northrop Grumman Corporation. He retired from that company in September 2002 to become the President of the Aerospace Technology at a consulting organization in Cleveland, Ohio. In 2010, Bluford was inducted into the United States Astronaut Hall of Fame.