The first black astronaut to travel to space was Robert Henry Lawrence Jr., an American Air Force officer who was selected as a member of the astronaut corps in 1967. Lawrence was a member of the U.S. Air Force and had already flown numerous combat missions in Southeast Asia when he was selected for the astronaut corps.
However, Lawrence never had the opportunity to travel to space, as he died during a training accident in December 1967. Despite his untimely death, Lawrence is remembered as a pioneering figure in the history of space exploration, and is celebrated for his contributions to the space program and his achievements as a military aviator.
It wasn’t until 1983 that the first African American astronaut, Guion Bluford, was sent to space. Bluford was selected as a member of NASA’s astronaut corps in 1979, and went on to serve as a mission specialist on four space shuttle missions, including the first flight of the shuttle Challenger. Bluford spent a total of 28 days in space and conducted a number of scientific experiments and technological demonstrations during his missions.
Bluford’s achievements as the first African American astronaut helped to break down barriers in the space program and paved the way for a more diverse group of individuals to pursue careers in space exploration. Today, a number of African American astronauts continue to make significant contributions to the space program, and many serve as role models and inspirational figures to young people who are interested in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.
In conclusion, Robert Henry Lawrence Jr. was the first black astronaut selected by the US Air Force, while Guion Bluford was the first African American astronaut to travel to space. Both Lawrence and Bluford were trailblazers in the field of space exploration, and their achievements continue to inspire future generations of astronauts and space enthusiasts.