First African American : Guion Bluford
As a kid, Guion Bluford had aspirations to become an aerospace engineer. With his grand goal in mind, he set out to do all the hard work required to live his dream to the fullest. He first obtained his bachelor of Science in aerospace engineering at the age of 22. He then trained as a pilot and received his pilot wings and flew 144 combat missions during his time as a fighter pilot. Following that, he became an instructor pilot at the age of 25, serving as an evaluation officer and assistant flight commander. At 29, he became an executive support officer after attending Squadron Officers School. And the next year, he entered the Air Forces Institute of Technology and graduated where he completed his master of science degree with distinction in aerospace engineering. He obtained a doctorate in philosophy of aerospace engineering with a minor in laser physic from the same institute at the age of 36 and was picked out of tens of thousands of applicants to become an astronaut with NASA.
Becoming an astronaut doesn't necessarily mean that you will get a chance to fly in space, but Guion was one of the lucky few to have the privilege to see the earth from a rare point of view at the age of 41. He was involved in a total of four shuttle missions to space where he spent a total of 700 hours. In an interview, when asked if he would go back given the opportunity to do so, he agreed without any hesitation. Guion was the first African American in space and although he didn't plan on being the first he "wanted to set the standard, do the best job possible, so that people would be comfortable with African-Americans flying in space. And African-Americans would be proud of being participants in the space program and encourage others to do the same". He opened the door to new possibilities in the eyes of many African Americans, some of which followed his path and became astronauts in space as well.