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David De Clue

astronaut, was born Michael Phillip Anderson in Plattsburgh, New York, to Barbara and Andy “Bobby” Anderson. Because his father was a member of the United States Air Force, young Anderson moved regularly until the family settled in Spokane, Washington, in the 1960s. It was there that he attended public schools and became fascinated with America's space race. Michael would wear goggles when cutting lawns because he knew that he needed to protect his eyes in order to be an astronaut.

After high school Anderson went to the University of Washington, where in 1981 he received a bachelor of science degree in Physics and Astronomy, and then went to Creighton University, where he received a master of science degree in Physics in 1990 As an undergraduate he received pilot training at Vance Air Force Base in Oklahoma and as a postgraduate he piloted KC 130 and T 38 transport ...

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Born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Guion Stewart (Guy) Bluford, Jr. grew up in an educated, middle-class household. His mother was a teacher and his father an inventor and mechanical engineer. The Blufords provided their three sons with an example of personal drive, goal fulfillment, and a strong work ethic. Bluford's interest in space and aviation began in his early childhood, when he constructed model airplanes. He studied math and science in junior high and set his career sights on aerospace engineering.

Bluford assembled an impressive résumé before entering NASA's astronaut program in 1978. He enrolled in the United States Air Force's Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) during college, and he graduated from Pennsylvania State University in 1964 with a degree in aerospace engineering. He trained to be a pilot at Williams Air Force Base in Arizona. After receiving his pilot wings in 1965 Bluford served in ...

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Adam Rosen

astronaut and United States Navy Captain, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, one of four children of Yvonne Evans and Robert Lee Curbeam, a longtime employee of the Western Electric Company, an electrical engineering corporation later absorbed into Lucent Technologies. In addition to accruing over 3,000 flight hours (including 900 in space) in multiple aircraft and spacecraft, as of 2012, Curbeam held the record for most spacewalks (four) in a single shuttle mission, which he completed as a crew member of the Discovery shuttle in December 2006.

Curbeam was raised in the Baltimore area, and graduated from Woodlawn High School in suburban Baltimore County in 1980. He matriculated at the United States Naval Academy, and earned a degree in aerospace engineering in 1984 Immediately after college graduation Curbeam reported to Naval Flight Officer training for instruction In contrast to Naval Aviators NFOs do not actually fly ...

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Jason Philip Miller

astronaut and pilot, was born Benjamin Alvin Drew Jr. into a middle-class home in Washington, D.C., to Muriel and Benjamin Drew Sr. Drew attended local schools and one day in class was inspired by viewing the launch of Apollo 7 (1968), the first manned space flight after the Apollo 1 disaster (1967) killed all three members of the crew. Drew later reported that from that day on, the path of his life was set. Everything he did in his education was aimed at flying in outer space. That was no simple goal. Applicants to the astronaut-training program of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) were legion, but NASA selected only a tiny fraction of them to participate. The number of successful African American applicants was fewer still.

Drew graduated from Gonzaga College High School in 1980 and from there he matriculated in the U ...

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Aaron Myers

Frederick Gregory made his first space flight in 1985, two years after Guion Bluford became the first African American in space. On his first mission, Gregory served as a pilot and, in collaboration with sixteen other crewmembers, conducted various medical experiments. In 1989 Gregory capitalized on Bluford's historic achievement by becoming the first black space commander.

Born in Washington, D.C., Gregory showed an early interest in flying. Gregory's father, an educator, and his uncle, Dr. Charles Drew, who conducted pioneering blood plasma research in the late 1930s, inspired and encouraged him. After graduating from Anacostia High School in Washington, D.C., however, Gregory had difficulty securing the sponsorship of a congressperson, which was required for admission to the United States Air Force Academy. Determined to help Gregory realize his dream, his father convinced New York congressman Adam Clayton Powell, to nominate his son.

Gregory was an experienced ...

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Amar Wahab

astronaut, was the only child born to Francis Anderson Gregory and Nora Drew Gregory, both educators, in Washington, D.C. Following a decorated career in the US Air Force, Gregory became the first African American to pilot and then command a space shuttle.

Education was highly valued in Gregory's family: his maternal uncle, Charles Drew, was a physician and medical researcher who developed blood banks in World War II; and although his father earned a master's degree in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), career discrimination forced him to become a teacher instead. While Gregory's Anacostia neighborhood was integrated when he was a child, D.C.'s school system was not, and he was bused to Mott Elementary School and Banneker Junior High School. Following the 1954Brown v. Board of Education ruling when he was in eighth grade Gregory transferred to the integrated Sousa Junior High ...

Article

Adam W. Green

was the second of three children born to Bernard Anthony Harris, Sr., a former Army service member, and Gussie H. Emanual, a teacher, in Temple, Texas. After working as a flight surgeon and researching musculoskeletal weakness, Harris became the first African American to walk in space.

Harris spent his first six years living near The Heights, a working-class neighborhood outside of Houston, until his parents divorced. His mother took the three young children—Bernard, older sister, Gillette, and younger brother, Dennis—to Temple in central Texas to stay with Harris’s maternal grandmother, before moving to Waco. Gussie worked as a cook at a diner until finding a job as an educator for a Navajo reservation, which she procured through the Bureau of Indian Affairs. She moved to the Greasewood, Arizona site, and worked there for six months before buying a car to bring out her three children.

Harris lived in a reservation ...

Article

Steven J. Niven

astronaut, was born Joan Elizabeth Miller Higginbotham in Chicago, Illinois, to Inez and William Higginbotham. She graduated from Chicago's highly selective Whitney M. Young Magnet High School in 1982, one year after future First Lady Michelle Obama. Higginbotham, who had excelled in math and science in high school, then entered Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering in 1987. She had not grown up dreaming of becoming an astronaut, or even of working in the space industry. Indeed, it was not until 1983, when Higginbotham was an undergraduate, that the first American woman, Sally Ride, and the first African American man, Guion S. Bluford, entered space. (Valentina Tereshkova, a Soviet Cosmonaut, was the first woman in space, twenty years earlier, in 1963 while the first person of African descent in space was Arnaldo Tamayo Ménde ...

Article

Martha Ackmann

astronaut and physician, was born Mae Carol Jemison in Decatur, Alabama, the daughter of Charlie Jemison, a carpenter and roofer, and Dorothy Jemison, a teacher whose maiden name is unknown. After living the first three and a half years of her life in Alabama near the Marshall Space Flight Center, Jemison moved to Chicago with her parents and older siblings, Rickey and Ada Sue. When her family experienced trouble with local gangs, they moved to another section of the city, where Jemison immersed herself in her schoolwork. An avid reader, she also was inspired by role models in the media, such as Lieutenant Uhura, a black woman astronaut portrayed by the actress Nichelle Nichols in the 1960s television series Star Trek At a time when all astronauts were white and male even a fictional character such as Lieutenant Uhura had a positive impact on ...

Article

Courtney L. Young

astronaut and educator. Mae Jemison is best known as the first African American woman in space, but this simple statement does not speak adequately to the greatness of her attributes and skills. Born in 1956 in Decatur, Alabama, Jemison, with her mother, her father, and two older siblings, moved to Chicago in 1959. Jemison was deeply interested in science and nature. She cultivated that interest independently by reading evolutionary theory and astronomy, as well as in the classroom by taking classes in biology, chemistry, and physics. An honors student, Jemison graduated from Morgan Park High School in 1973. That fall she attended Stanford University on a National Achievements Scholarship. She earned both her BS in chemical engineering and a second bachelor's degree in Afro-American studies in 1977. Jemison then went to Cornell University Medical School, where she earned her MD in 1981 She completed her ...

Article

The daughter of Charlie and Dorothy Jemison, a maintenance supervisor and schoolteacher in Decatur, Alabama, Mae Carol Jemison was raised in Chicago, Illinois. Graduating from Morgan Park High School in 1973 at the age of sixteen, she entered Stanford University on a National Achievement Scholarship. Jemison graduated in 1977 with two concurrent bachelor's degrees, in chemical engineering and African/Afro-American studies. She then entered Cornell Medical School, graduating in 1981 and interning in Los Angeles, California.

Jemison joined the Peace Corps in January 1983 and worked as a medical officer in West Africa through July 1985. In 1987 she was accepted by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as an astronaut candidate, one of fifteen who were accepted from among 2,000 applicants. She completed a one-year training and evaluation program in August 1988 and became a science mission specialist helping prepare the space shuttles for ...

Article

Monique M. Chism

One such feat occurred on 12 September 1992, when she soared to new heights on the space shuttle Endeavor and became the first African American woman to venture into outer space.

The youngest of three children, Jemison was born in Decatur, Alabama, to Charlie and Dorothy Jemison, a maintenance supervisor at United Charities of Chicago and an elementary schoolteacher, respectively. From a young age Jemison dreamed of traveling into outer space, despite the fact that the astronaut corps did not accept American women until 1970 Determined to provide Jemison and her older sister and brother Ada and Charles with opportunities not afforded in the South her family moved to Chicago Illinois in search of a better quality of life At Morgan Park High School she was given the opportunity to explore a variety of areas that captivated her attention Jemison was academically intrigued and stimulated by ...

Article

Caroline M. Fannin

aviator and astronaut, was born in Chicago, the son of Gwendolyn Annette Williams Lawrence, a civil servant, and Robert Henry Lawrence Sr., a disabled veteran. While Lawrence and his sister were quite young, their parents divorced. Their mother married Charles Duncan, who worked as a Veterans Administration underwriter and in periodicals circulation. Robert H. Lawrence Sr. remained a strong influence in his children's lives.

Lawrence a bright and self disciplined youngster attended Haines Elementary School in inner city Chicago The family was far from affluent but the Duncans provided support and intellectual stimulation nurturing Lawrence s interests in chess model airplanes and chemistry Summers spent at the home of family friends near St Louis Missouri allowed the children to enjoy country surroundings and trips to baseball games and to nearby Lambert Airfield During the school year in Chicago visits to museums concerts or the zoo were ...

Article

Alonford James Robinson

Ronald McNair was born in Lake City, South Carolina. Despite a background of poverty and segregation, he earned a Ph.D. in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1976. After working as a physicist at Hughes Research Laboratories, he became a mission specialist astronaut with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1978. On February 3, 1984, he made his first space flight, and became the second African American (after Guy Bluford) to go into space. His second flight was on the space shuttle Challenger. This flight ended in tragedy when Challenger exploded seventy-three seconds after takeoff on January 28, 1986. McNair and the six other astronauts on board died in the explosion. His father, Carl McNair, has created a fund for the Ron McNair Science Playground in New York City.

Article

John Bryan Gartrell

physicist, astronaut, and victim of the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster, was born in Lake City, South Carolina, the second of three children of Pearl McNair, an educator, and Carl McNair, a mechanic. Ronald McNair and his brothers, Carl Jr. and Eric, were raised to place great emphasis on education and achievement.

During the 1950s and 1960s segregation dictated all social practices in Lake City South Carolina McNair though did not allow the world around him to define his path At age three he began reading his mother s classroom books At age nine after exhausting his collection at home McNair staged a sit in at the whites only library refusing to leave until he was able to check out a book Among his schoolmates McNair was deemed the hardest worker and the smartest anything less than a perfect score on exams only fueled his drive ...

Article

Jason Philip Miller

astronaut and military pilot, was born in Lynchburg, Virginia, one of two children of Deems and Grace Melvin, both middle-school teachers. He attended the local Heritage High School, where he was a strong student and an outstanding athlete. Melvin set his sights on a career in the National Football League, and when he graduated from high school in 1982, he matriculated at the University of Richmond on a football scholarship.

As a wide receiver for the Richmond Spiders, Melvin set a number of school records, including one for number of receptions, some of which continue to stand as of this writing. In his senior year, he was named National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I All-American. He graduated from Richmond in 1986 with a bachelor's degree in chemistry. He entered the National Football League draft and was drafted by the Detroit Lions in 1986 but a hamstring injury in ...

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Jason Philip Miller

astronaut and medical doctor, was born Robert Lee Satcher Jr. in Hampton, Virginia, the eldest of four children of Marian and Robert Satcher. Satcher's father was a chemistry professor at Hampton University, and it was that science background—along with a professed love of the popular science-fiction films of the 1970s (George Lucas'sStar Wars chief among them)—that bequeathed to the young Satcher both an interest in science and a fascination with outer space.

Satcher attended local schools in Hampton, including Spratley Middle School and Denmark-Olar High School, from which he graduated in 1982. He matriculated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and from that institution earned a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering in 1986. He stayed on at MIT and in 1993 earned a PhD in chemical engineering. A year later, 1994 he was attending Harvard Medical School from which he graduated with a degree in ...

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Jason Philip Miller

astronaut, was born Winston Elliott Scott in Miami, Florida, to Rubye Scott (maiden name unknown) and Alston Scott. Information about his parents is difficult to come by. What is known is that Scott attended local schools and was a gifted student, showing a particular interest in music. He graduated from Coral Gables High School in 1968 and matriculated at Florida State University, from which he earned a bachelor's degree in music in 1972. After graduation Scott's career plans changed, however, and he applied for and was accepted into the Naval Aviation Officer Candidate School with the goal of becoming a pilot.

Two years later, in 1974 Scott earned his helicopter wings and went on to serve with the Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron Light 33 unit in northern California Four years later he enrolled in the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey California and earned a master s degree in aeronautical ...

Article

Jason Philip Miller

astronaut and scientist, was born Stephanie Diana Wilson in Boston, Massachusetts, the daughter of Eugene Wilson, an electrical engineer, and Barbara Wilson, who worked in aerospace. The family relocated to the small town of Pittsfield, in western Massachusetts, when Stephanie was a child, and it was there that she was raised and attended local schools. She was a good student, with interests in music, sports, and science. When she was thirteen, she interviewed an astronomy professor as part of a “career awareness” class and project. She was inspired and later would recount that moment as the one that helped to plot her future course.

Wilson graduated from Taconic High School in 1984 and matriculated late that year at Harvard College, from which she earned a bachelor's in engineering science four years later. She went on to the University of Texas and received a master's in aerospace engineering in 1992 ...