U.S. Air Force pilot, American astronaut. Born on November 22, 1942, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Bluford became the first African American to travel in space in 1983 as a mission specialist aboard the space shuttle Challenger.
He studied aerospace engineering at Pennsylvania State University, graduating in 1964. A distinguished U.S. Air Force Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) member in college, Bluford joined the U.S. Air Force and served in the Vietnam War. Flying more than 140 combat missions, he won several medals, including the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm.