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Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr.

Orthopaedic surgeon, chemical engineer and astronaut Robert Lee Satcher, Jr. was born on September 22, 1965 in Hampton, Virginia to Robert and Marian Satcher. Satcher graduated from Denmark-Olar High School in Denmark, South Carolina, in 1982. He received his B.S. degree in chemical engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1986; his Ph.D. degree in chemical engineering from MIT in 1993; and his M.D. degree from Harvard Medical School in 1994. Satcher completed his postdoctoral research fellowships at MIT in 1994 and University of California, Berkeley in 1998; internship and residency in orthopaedic surgery at the University of California, San Francisco in 2000; and a fellowship in musculoskeletal oncology at the University of Florida in 2001.

From 2001 to 2008, Satcher served as an assistant professor at The Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University, in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. He was also an assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery at the Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago, Illinois from 2001 to 2008, and served as a professor at the Institute for Bionanotechnology in Medicine at Northwestern University Medical Center. In addition, Satcher was an attending physician of orthopaedic oncology at Northwestern Memorial Hospital - Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center from 2001 to 2008; and served as an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Northwestern University from 2002 to 2008.

Satcher joined NASA in 2004. In 2009, he became the first orthopaedic surgeon in space during NASA’s STS-129 mission, where he was a mission specialist and performed two spacewalks. Satcher left NASA in September 2011, and serves as a surgical oncologist and assistant professor at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Satcher’s professional organizations include the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, Musculoskeletal Tumor Society, American Academy of Cancer Research, Connective Tissue Oncology Society, National Medical Association, Society of Black Academic Surgeons, Doctors United in Medical Missions, National Comprehensive Cancer Network, American Telemedicine Association, Orthopaedic Research Society, MIT Alumni Association, Black Alumni at MIT and Harvard Alumni Association. In addition, he co-founded the eHealth Research Institute, is a user panel member of the National Space Biomedical Research Institute, and serves on the boards of CSTEM and Teach for America.

Satcher has been active in numerous community organizations, including Big Brother for Youth at Risk Counseling Program, Department of Corrections, San Francisco, California; Tutor for Black Student’s Union Tutorial Program, MIT; National Society of Black Engineers; American Institute of Chemical Engineering; Supervising Adult for Cub Scout Camp for Boys, Nashville, Tennessee; Open Airways Tutor (asthma awareness); Proctor for Freshman Dormitory at Harvard University; Lay Episcopal Minister at St. Edmund’s Episcopal Church, Chicago, Illinois and at St. James Episcopal Church in Houston, Texas. Satcher has also completed medical missions for outreach care to underserved areas in Nicaragua, Venezuela, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, and Gabon.

Satcher was a National Merit Scholar, and received the Monsanto Award and the Albert G. Hill Award from MIT, fellowships from both the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and UNCF/Merck Research department, and is a member of the Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society. He has been awarded two honorary doctorates of science, and was selected as a finalist in Tuskegee University’s presidency search in 2010.

Robert Satcher, Jr. was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 3, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.047

Sex

Male

Interview Date

3/3/2014 |and| 5/7/2014

Last Name

Satcher

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Middle Name

Lee

Schools

Denmark-Olar High School

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Harvard Medical School

First Name

Robert

Birth City, State, Country

Hampton

HM ID

SAT03

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Virginia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Caribbean

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Texas

Birth Date

9/22/1965

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Houston

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Unsalted Peanuts

Short Description

Orthopedic surgeon, chemical engineer, and astronaut Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. (1965 - ) was a surgical oncologist and assistant professor at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. He became the first orthopedic surgeon in space during NASA’s STS-129 mission.

Employment

UT MD Anderson Cancer Center

Northwestern University

NASA Johnson Space Center

Northwestern Memorial Hospital

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr.'s interview, session 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. describes his mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. talks about his parent's civil rights activism

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. remembers his maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. describes his mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. describes his father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. describes his father's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. describes how his parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. talks about his father and when his parents first started dating

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. lists his siblings, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. lists his siblings, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. remembers developing an interest in science

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. describes his early influences

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. talks about his aspiration to become a pilot

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. remembers moving to Denmark, South Carolina

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. remembers Denmark-Olar High School in Denmark, South Carolina

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. recalls his start at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. remembers his first year at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. describes his experiences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. talks about the MIT Black Students' Union

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. talks about his transition from the South to Boston, Massachusetts, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. talks about his transition from the South to Boston, Massachusetts, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. remembers the black faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. talks about the influence of black astronauts

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. recalls his decision to study chemical engineering

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. remembers his decision to study medicine

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. talks about his dual graduate degree program

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. remembers his black peers and professors at Harvard Medical School

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. remembers the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. talks about his curriculum track at Harvard Medical School

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. remembers Mae Jemison

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. recalls his decision to attend Harvard Medical School

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. talks about his Ph.D. degree program

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. reflects upon his decision to complete a dual degree graduate program

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. talks about his interest in orthopedic surgery

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. remembers his residency at the University of California, San Francisco

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Slating of Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr.'s interview, session 2

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. remembers the influence of Emily Morey Holton

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. recalls applying to become an astronaut

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. talks about his work as a bone cancer surgeon

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. recalls his selection as an astronaut candidate

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. remembers his acceptance into the NASA Astronaut Corps

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. recalls his decision to join the NASA Astronaut Corps

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. talks about the history of African American astronauts

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. describes basic training at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. describes basic training at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. talks about Extravehicular Activity training

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. talks about Extravehicular Activity training

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. describes his family's perspective on his work as an astronaut

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. remembers his flight assignment

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. remembers launch day on Space Shuttle Atlantis

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. describes his crewmates on the Space Shuttle Atlantis

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. recalls his experience of space shuttle takeoff, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. recalls his experience of space shuttle takeoff, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. talks about the flight crew for Space Transport System 129 on Space Shuttle Atlantis

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. describes the process of acclimating to zero gravity

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. talks about eating and sleeping in space

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. describes life on the International Space Station

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. talks about the mission schedule for Space Transport System 129

DASession

2$2

DATape

7$8

DAStory

1$2

DATitle
Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. describes basic training at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, pt. 1
Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. recalls his experience of space shuttle takeoff, pt. 2
Transcript
Now I imagine--and correct me if I'm wrong--but you had a, there was a general training that everybody got and then a training around your specialty as a mission specialty--specialist, right?$$Um-hm.$$Okay.$$Yeah, when you start it now, you go through basic training which can be a year and a half or so on average and that's just because you've got all these people from different walks of life and you basically want them to be able to work together and you need to understand what that means too, just to be an astronaut, because you have no clue outside of pretty much what you have seen on TV in a popular culture like everybody else, so yeah. You go through a year of basic, a year and a half of basic training. One of the most important aspects of that training is learning how to fly and the jet trainers and T-38s [Northrop T-38 Talon], and that's a tool that they use for what's called crew resource management. Basically, it's how you work together as a crew in a dynamic environment; you know, in this case a jet but that simulates in a lot of ways of being in a spaceship.$$Now, had you ever flown before?$$Just a little bit. I mean, I had taken private lessons when--towards the end of my residency and fellowship and I was working towards getting my private license, but I hadn't gotten it yet, so I had flown some.$$Okay.$$But never in a supersonic jet, you know, in terms of piloting it, so that was all new. The other thing was we do a lot of training as mission specialists during spacewalk training in this gigantic pool called the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory and you go in spacesuits that have been made to be neutrally buoyant under water, so it simulates being in space, and, but you need to be scuba trained. You need to also train, do a lot of training specifically for being able to actually train in that facility, and so, that's part of your basic astronaut training, putting you through that whole process. For some of the water survival and land survival stuff, they sent us to different places. We went to Pensacola [Florida], to the naval flight training school [Naval Air Station Pensacola] there. There was some flight training there. We also went up to Maine to the Acadia national forest [Acadia National Park] to do some of our land survival training.$$This is in case it comes down place that it's not supposed to.$$Right, right. And then, we had training, like in geology; being able to explore landscapes, find important features. In a landscape that will tell you about the evolution of that particular environment. And so, we went out to New Mexico in order to do a lot of that training. Part of it, too, is the astronauts, of course, were the focal point for what NASA [National Aeronautics and Space Administration] does in human exploration. So, whenever they bring in a new class, you need to learn about NASA as an organization. NASA has, I believe, don't quote me on this, if I remember I think it's fourteen centers nationwide, and you go around and visit every center so that the people, the personnel that are at each of these centers have an opportunity to meet you and you have an opportunity to meet them. The spacecraft and the spaceships that we fly on are assembled collectively by all of the centers. It's directed primarily in certain areas, but there are parts and contributions from all of the centers that are brought together and so it's important to go and meet the people that are doing that because you really are entrusting them with your lives when you're flying on a spaceship, and so it's closing that loop so that they have a face, you know. They know that this isn't just some theoretical exercise. It's, you know, these are people that are depending on them, so it establishes that bond and, you know, so it's--its, that's part of your basic training. That's you know, what you do. You continue it also, once you, you know, finish basic training.$And, when you get to the eight and a half minutes you're going, you're traveling at 17,500 miles an hour, which is, if you do the calculation, it's five miles per second, which is actually faster than a bullet, but you're in this gigantic spaceship travelling that fast and, you know, it's as I said, by the time you get to that eight minute mark and you know you're almost getting ready for the engines to stop, you're ready for the engines to stop (laughter) because you know it's really, and I was sitting there and I was having to think about every breath, you know. I was like, man, I gotta think about breathing because my muscles are actually starting to get a little bit tired from having to do this work. So, when the engines cut off and we were officially in space, it was very nice. They cut off and then everything starts exploding and that's kind of a magical moment, you know. It cuts off and I was just anticipating it and I was like, oh man, everything's gonna start floating now. This is gonna be spectacular. And it was. You know. I didn't have one of my gloves. I didn't have it strapped on me the right way, so when I took it off it started floating off, you know, and I'm getting out of the seat and, you know, when you're under your buckle and then all of a sudden you're just floating, you know, and just floating around, it's a spectacular feeling and the one thing that we all do right when it happens is, you know, you go to the window and stare out, just like a bunch of kids, you know, because you want to look out and just take in you know, seeing Earth. It's like you need to mentally verify. I am in space because, again, this is just kind of unique once in a lifetime for many, kind of things, and I just immediately started thinking I want to just remember as much of this as I possibly can. What competes with that, of course, is you have a very busy schedule that you have to adhere to and you have a lot of duties, so--$$Can you remember the first thing you saw when you looked out the window?$$Uh, well, I looked out and I saw the Earth and we were, I think we were over Europe at the time.$$Could you make it out?$$Oh yeah, yeah. I mean, it looks like, yeah, that's what's incredible. It looks just like the globe that you have on your desk, but in vivid colors; just incredibly spectacular, vivid colors. More vivid than you can imagine. It just kind of blows you away, and it just exceeds what you think it's gonna look like, 'cause I had, I was thinking it was gonna look this way but then you see it and just the colors are so brilliant. That hasn't had, the reason is when you're in space you're outside the atmosphere and you're in a vacuum of space and so you have this unfiltered light, and the colors, like I said, are just really spectacular and brilliant and you know there's something that's, in certain ways, very spiritual about how it looks and how it grabs you and affects you. So, at any rate. The other thing that really you notice when you look down on the earth you know, you can see, you actually can see the atmosphere when you look, you know, kind of on a tangent on the earth. Let's say that's the earth and you look right on the side, you actually see the atmosphere, this layer, you know, of gas, oxygen and nitrogen, whatever, adherent to the Earth.$$Does it look like a lot of protection for the Earth?$$Well, no. (Laughter) It looks like a thin, delicate layer. You know, and you realize that it's like this fluid, just like, you know, a gas is basically a fluid, just like water; water much more dense of course, but that's what it looks like. It looks like this fluid that's adherent to the Earth and you realize that's what we breathe and that's, you know, and what it really made me realize is that it's not an infinite entity. It's quantifiable. You can see that and you can see its layer. It's like, well there's only so much of that that's there, you know, and that really kind of brings home the point that it really is a delicate system that we have here and, you know, it's obviously it's coming into focus now with a lot of the global climate changes and everything that are going on, but you really gain a very visceral appreciation for it when you can actually see it like that.$$It becomes more real then--$$It becomes very real (simultaneous).$$--(Simultaneous) that human beings could actually destroy this.$$Right. Yeah, we could definitely do that.

Capt. Winston Scott

NASA astronaut and U.S. Navy Captain Winston E. Scott was born on August 6, 1950 in Miami, Florida to Alston J. and Rubye L. Scott. He graduated from Coral Gables High School in 1968, received his B.A. degree in music from Florida State University in 1972 and his M.S. degree in aeronautical engineering with avionics from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.

Scott entered Naval Aviation Officer Candidate School in 1973 and was designated a Naval Aviator in 1974. As an aviator, Scott piloted the F-14 Tomcat, F/A-18 Hornet, and the A-7 Corsair. In 1988, Scott was assigned as deputy director and test pilot in the Tactical Aircraft Systems Department at the Naval Air Development Center in Warminster, Pennsylvania. Scott has logged over 6,000 hours of total flight time in more than 20 different aircraft and more than two-hundred shipboard landings.

In 1992, Scott was selected by NASA for astronaut training. He later served as a mission specialist on STS-72 Endeavour during its nine day mission from January 11, 1996 to July 20, 1996. Scott conducted one spacewalk to demonstrate and evaluate techniques later used in the assembly of the International Space Station. Scott returned to space on STS-87 Columbia during its sixteen day mission from November 19, 1997 to December 5, 1997 where he performed two spacewalks, including one that lasted over seven hours and involved the manual capture of a Spartan satellite. On the second spacewalk, Scott tested tools and procedures for future space station assembly. In 1999, Scott retired from NASA and the U.S. Navy to become Vice President for Student Affairs and Associate Dean of the Florida State University College of Engineering. In 2003, Scott became the executive director of the Florida Space Authority (FSA), an organization responsible for the development of space-related business in the State of Florida. The FSA also advised the state’s governor and legislature on matters related to space and aeronautics in the state. In 2006, Scott became Vice President and Deputy General Manager on the engineering and science contract at Johnson Space Center for Jacobs Engineering in Houston, Texas. Scott’s book, Reflections from Earth Orbit (2005), is a semi-autobiographical account of his experiences as a NASA astronaut.

Scott is a member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the National Naval Officers Association, the Naval Helicopter Association, the Naval Tailhook Association, and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. In 1998, U.S. Black Engineer and Information Technology magazine named Scott “U. S. Black Engineer of the Year.” Scott also received the American Institute of Aeronautics & Astronautics Achievement Award and two NASA Space Flight Medals. His military honors include the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, and the National Defense Service Medal. Scott was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Florida Atlantic University and an Honorary Doctorate of Engineering degree from Michigan State University.

NASA astronaut and U.S. Navy Captain Winston E. Scott was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 6, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.138

Sex

Male

Interview Date

6/6/2013

Last Name

Scott

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

Coral Gables High School

Florida State University

Naval Postgraduate School

Naval Aviation Officer Candidate School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Winston

Birth City, State, Country

Miami

HM ID

SCO07

Favorite Season

Christmas

State

Florida

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere

Favorite Quote

Luck is when opportunity meets preparation.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Florida

Birth Date

8/6/1950

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Melbourne

Country

United States

Favorite Food

All Food

Short Description

Astronaut and aircraft commander Capt. Winston Scott (1950 - ) served as a mission specialist on STS-72 in 1996 and STS-87 in 1997, and has logged a total of twenty-four days, fourteen hours and thirty-four minutes in space, including three spacewalks totaling nineteen hours and twenty-six minutes. As a naval aviator Scott accumulated more than 6,000 hours of flight time in more than 20 different aircraft.

Employment

United States Navy

Naval Aviation Depot

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Florida State University

Florida Space Authority

Jacobs Engineering

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
0,0:1010,19:1690,32:2098,39:4206,82:4478,87:6994,171:8762,202:9034,207:14726,262:14950,267:15510,289:17638,352:18086,361:18590,372:22950,411:26260,455:26755,466:27525,480:27855,487:31166,522:33964,540:35188,560:35732,570:36412,593:37092,614:37772,626:38248,635:39336,652:40220,671:41036,679:42192,697:42464,702:42736,707:47160,717:47384,722:47832,736:48896,761:49960,781:50352,789:51640,816:52032,824:52368,833:53096,849:53432,856:53656,861:54832,884:55448,896:59266,906:60082,920:60422,929:61714,955:62190,964:62462,969:62870,976:63142,987:63482,993:63754,998:64366,1009:65386,1032:65862,1048:66610,1064:67834,1097:69194,1118:69670,1129:69942,1134:70554,1145:71098,1155:71574,1163:72322,1176:72662,1182:73070,1190:77635,1212:78265,1224:78832,1240:79147,1246:80990,1251:81620,1262:81900,1267:82670,1280:84070,1307:85050,1326:86520,1357:86870,1363:87780,1382:88060,1388:88480,1396:89740,1418:90090,1424:91000,1441:91280,1446:94030,1453:95310,1474:95758,1481:96718,1505:97102,1512:97422,1518:100238,1593:100494,1598:100942,1607:103758,1679:104078,1685:105486,1728:106062,1739:106894,1756:107470,1766:109646,1830:114355,1845:118241,1920:120184,1961:121256,1987:123132,2036:125276,2076:125544,2081:126683,2120:128291,2137:128559,2142:128894,2148:129162,2153:138635,2275:140084,2302:144431,2406:146363,2481:146708,2487:146984,2492:147398,2504:149399,2552:149951,2562:150848,2577:151538,2590:151883,2596:157190,2610:157530,2616:158618,2639:162086,2710:165826,2801:166166,2807:167390,2829:167798,2836:168070,2841:169430,2862:176648,2921:177026,2932:177278,2937:181373,3036:181814,3045:182255,3053:182885,3066:183200,3072:183767,3085:184082,3091:187970,3100:188255,3110:189737,3139:190820,3178:191333,3194:191846,3204:192302,3213:194240,3249:194696,3259:195950,3282:196292,3289:197831,3331:198344,3342:199256,3364:199655,3376:200339,3390:204660,3413:205298,3429:205878,3442:206284,3453:207560,3486:208198,3498:210460,3554:211562,3579:212374,3594:212664,3600:213360,3614:213592,3619:213824,3624:215912,3676:216202,3682:222230,3746:223140,3759:223980,3779:224330,3785:226990,3847:227340,3853:228600,3879:229650,3898:234184,3950:234500,3955:236420,3978:236664,3983:237152,3993:238921,4069:239592,4084:241178,4133:241727,4144:243069,4171:243374,4177:243740,4184:245143,4218:245509,4226:246912,4266:247217,4272:247766,4286:248193,4294:248681,4303:259754,4480:260084,4486:263210,4500:264386,4555:265394,4588:265842,4596:266290,4605:268062,4617:268558,4639:268806,4644:275192,4797:275626,4805:276246,4819:276494,4824:277858,4849:278106,4854:281990,4871:282340,4877:283110,4897:283530,4904:285560,4942:286120,4952:286680,4961:287170,4970:287520,4976:287870,4982:290350,4993:292554,5053:293192,5071:293424,5077:295222,5124:295918,5132:296266,5139:296788,5150:297368,5161:298470,5188:303932,5257:304468,5267:309493,5387:311838,5495:316327,5579:316863,5595:317131,5600:317399,5605:317868,5614:318136,5619:318404,5624:318873,5632:319476,5642:319945,5651:320548,5662:324609,5674:325113,5683:325806,5699:326499,5709:327192,5720:327822,5734:328704,5747:329082,5754:335004,5880:335445,5886:339833,5905:340614,5924:340969,5930:341324,5937:342531,5967:342886,5973:343525,5983:347980,6053$0,0:5256,71:5640,78:5960,85:6216,90:9672,166:10312,207:16776,348:18888,398:19656,411:21640,444:22280,456:23112,473:23688,484:24328,495:24968,506:26568,544:27976,572:28360,579:36708,647:37604,664:38372,678:39460,705:39780,711:43801,729:44116,735:44620,745:44998,752:45376,759:45628,764:46258,776:49849,848:50983,867:52054,889:52621,900:55708,978:56149,987:56527,994:57535,1010:57976,1019:59047,1039:60307,1060:60937,1075:61630,1088:62071,1098:62890,1112:63205,1118:68595,1135:69216,1147:70389,1170:70734,1176:71217,1185:71631,1192:72252,1209:72942,1220:75288,1315:76737,1356:77013,1361:77358,1367:78531,1387:79221,1400:79911,1411:80394,1420:81360,1438:81636,1443:82395,1458:83430,1493:84051,1503:85017,1527:85362,1533:91700,1569:94430,1640:96460,1698:97090,1714:97510,1723:98140,1736:98490,1742:98980,1751:100900,1759:101302,1766:102770,1799
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Winston Scott's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Winston Scott lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Winston Scott describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Winston Scott talks about his mother's education

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Winston Scott describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Winston Scott talks about his father's occupations

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Winston Scott describes how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Winston Scott describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Winston Scott talks about his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Winston Scott talks about growing up in Coconut Grove, Miami, Florida

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Winston Scott describes segregation in Miami, Florida

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Winston Scott describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Winston Scott describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Winston Scott describes knowing current events as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Winston Scott describes learning about the space program

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Winston Scott describes building things as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Winston Scott describes his father's emphasis on education

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Winston Scott describes being involved in Boy Scouts

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Winston Scott talks about playing trumpet in junior high school

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Winston Scott talks about his family's involvement in church

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Winston Scott talks about the integration of his high school

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Winston Scott describes being involved in music during high school

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Winston Scott describes being accepted into Florida State University

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Winston Scott describes his time at Florida State University

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Winston Scott describes joining the U.S. Navy

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Winston Scott describes his time at the Naval Aviation Officer Candidate School

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Winston Scott talks about his Navy training

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Winston Scott describes his career as a Navy pilot

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Winston Scott talks about African American astronauts

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Winston Scott describes being selected to become an astronaut

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Winston Scott describes training for his first space flight

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Winston Scott talks about his first spaceflight

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Winston Scott describes launching into space

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Winston Scott describes the view of earth from space

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Winston Scott describes his space missions

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Winston Scott describes being in space on the Endeavor Space Shuttle

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Winston Scott describes a space shuttles' reentry into the atmosphere

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Winston Scott describes his space walks

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Winston Scott describes correcting a satellite's attitude by hand

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Winston Scott talks about the psychological screening of astronauts

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Winston Scott reflects on his career as an astronaut

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Winston Scott describes the food astronauts eat

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Winston Scott describes the physical consequences of being in space

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Winston Scott describes becoming a professor at Florida State University

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Winston Scott describes being the director of the Florida Space Authority

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Winston Scott talks about his memoir, 'Reflections from Earth's Orbit'

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Winston Scott talks about opportunities in the space program

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Winston Scott describes his position at the Florida Institute of Technology

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Winston Scott reflects on his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Winston Scott describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Winston Scott reflects upon his life

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Winston Scott talks about his family

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Winston Scott talks about the Florida Institute of Technology

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Winston Scott talks about how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$4

DAStory

6$7

DATitle
Winston Scott talks about his father's occupations
Winston Scott talks about his first spaceflight
Transcript
So farming was the occupation-$$That's right.$$--up until the time that your--and your father [Alston James Scott] continued the, the tradition--(simultaneous).$$Well, my father grew up on the farm and then went off to a--he was drafted during World War II. He left Quitman [Georgia] and went to serve in the Army, he served two years. He was in the European theater in Germany and once his enlistment in the Army was up, he, of course, returned to the states and like a lot of people back then looked for jobs and as I understand it his sister, my aunt was living in Miami [Florida] at the time, she had gotten married and moved to Miami. She sent word to him if you come to Miami you can get work down here. He went down to Miami looking for a job and he first worked in the nursery business, you know, with a company that did landscaping and things like that but then, it's an interesting story, my father got on with the post office--he got hired with the post office down there after many trials and tribulations; that's a story in and of itself. But he became-- he and a guy named John Friar got hired that same day. They became the first two African Americans to carry mail in Miami. The jobs were segregated, blacks couldn't carry mail those jobs were reserved for whites but he was-- he and John Friar was the first two African Americans to carry mail in Miami. In fact, when he retired, thirty-seven years later he was the most senior black postman in the United States. And he was the number seven senior postman of all in the United States when he retired. I didn't know this until he retired and the mayor and the governor, everybody came and gave him all these accolades for him, they gave him all these awards and recognition with newspaper articles and I said, "Good God, I didn't know my dad did all of this". But he broke the color-- color barrier in carrying mail. Mail carrying, that's a good job, good profession.$$He had to be consistent, you know, and dependable, right?$$He had to be consistent, and dependable. Ever since the days of the pony express carrying mail and you know air mail, those were good solid jobs that anybody couldn't get. And like I say, they were segregated so I don't know if there was a union thing but they were segregated. And he was the first-- he and John Friar hired to carry mail.$$I imagine the government was compelled to bring on some black postman after awhile-- this is the kind of thing (simultaneous)--$$I don't know that and in talking to him and reading the accounts I don't think the government was compelled, I think just the, the local postmaster just needed people, just needed workers and he was of the mind that, "I don't care what color you are if you do a job, we need you." My father had stories to tell. When he first started carrying mail people were calling and complain that, "This N-word, I don't want him near my door carrying mail." And they would sic the dogs on him-- you know, they turn the dogs loose and go after him and so on. And it took him several tries to get hired because they would have him drive the trucks and Miami used little scooters. They had big trucks but they also used these motorized scooters that carry, you know, small--. The first few times people would say things like, "He didn't drive well, or he didn't handle the equipment right or he handled the equipment too rough." So finally he overcame all of that and got hired. He thought he was going to be hired temporarily just for the Christmas surge, all the extra mail during Christmas, he figured he would be fired after Christmas and that they would go to Cleveland, Ohio, I guess where they had lived before. But it turned out he wasn't fired, he stayed there and finished his career thirty-seven years later as a postman or thirty-nine years whatever it was. His total government time including Army was forty-one years but thirty-seven of that I think was with the post office.$$So, it wasn't easy being the first black--(simultaneous) (unclear).$$It wasn't easy--it's like being the first black of anything it wasn't easy at all. He had a lot of trials and tribulations, and again he never talked about this. I found out about it when he retired and they started giving him all these accolades and writing articles about him. It's kind of funny when you find out stuff like that about your parents that you never knew; you live with them and you never knew these things.$$Being a postman in those days was a, a very good job--(simultaneous) (unclear).$$Postman is a very good job, especially in the African American community. Like I said, it was a rock solid employment, you had to be dependable and you carried a certain amount of prestige. There is the government uniform, the post office was under the federal government at that time and so there wasn't very many of us doing those jobs; just like the police department, fire department. I'm old enough to remember when the first black motorcycle police officer was hired in Miami, I was a little kid but I remember it. You know, things like riding-- a motorcycle cop is a big deal; a police officer in general in those days, we don't think much of it now but we did back then. Bus driver--blacks couldn't be metro bus drivers for a long while, well you know this stuff but--.$$I'm glad you're saying it because this-- the audience that's watching this don't-- doesn't necessarily know this. Hopefully this will be around for hundreds of years.$$Hopefully it will be around for hundreds of years.$$And people will know.$$But, but those were some very good jobs and jobs that African Americans were not allowed to hold. So I remember when we had the first bus drivers in Miami and the first, well, police officers were mainly--the motorcycle squad I guess was kind of like the elite, at least they thought they were elite. So the first motorcycle cop was written up in 'The Miami Times' which was, of course, the all black newspaper there in Miami. So, those, those were some significant events for us.$Now, your first flight was on the Endeavor [Space Shuttle]?$$Endeavor, that's right. Nine days on the Endeavor.$$Is this 1996?$$In '96 [1996], that's right.$$How did things go? Did everything go perfectly?$$Everything went, everything went fine. I don't know if perfect is the right word but we had no real bad incidents happen. We got all of our mission accomplished. We had two space walks, we were, we had microgravity mission, so we grew crystals in space, plants in space, had laboratory animals in space. We deployed and retrieved the satellite, we retrieved the second satellite that was up there. We conducted two space walks where we tested tools and equipment for building the International Space Station. So we--. Every flight is jammed packed with hundreds of events and experiments and it all went real well. The space walks were particularly a big part of, of a, of any mission so those went real well too. On that flight, one of the things that I had to do that was really interesting was test out improvements to the space suit, because, again, we were preparing to build the International Space Station. It was going to be built in a location of space that was colder than we had been previously going. So NASA [National Aeronautic and Space Administration] had modified the suit and I was going to put the suit on, go outside and test those modifications to be sure to keep astronauts warm and safe in the extra cold environment of space. So that was one of the big important things that I did on my space walk. Space walk was six hours and fifty-- I think it was six hours and fifty-three minutes if I remember correctly on that one. And we did a whole bunch of other things on there also but this was one thing that was really, really important and kind of cool to do.

Guion Bluford

NASA astronaut, aerospace engineer, military officer, and senior engineering executive, Guion S. Bluford Jr. was born on November 22, 1942 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was the eldest of three sons of Guion Bluford, Sr., a mechanical engineer, and Lolita Bluford, a special education teacher. Bluford graduated from Overbrook Senior High School in 1960 and went on to graduate from Pennsylvania State University in 1964 with his B.S. degree in aerospace engineering. He was also a distinguished graduate of the U.S. Air Force ROTC program and received his commission as an Air Force second lieutenant. Bluford graduated from the Air Force Institute of Technology with his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in aerospace engineering in 1974 and 1978, respectively. In 1987, Bluford received his M.B.A. degree in management from the University of Houston at Clear Lake.

After receiving his Air Force pilot wings, Bluford was assigned to the 557th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam. As an F4C fighter pilot, he flew 144 combat missions in Southeast Asia. From 1967 to 1972, he was a T-38 instructor pilot at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas where he trained future U.S. Air Force and West German fighter pilots. Upon graduating from the Air Force Institute of Technology in 1974, Bluford was assigned to the U.S. Air Force Flight Dynamics Laboratory as Deputy for Advanced Concepts in the Aeromechanics Division and then as Branch Chief of the Aerodynamics and Airframe Branch. In 1978, Bluford was selected for the astronaut program and was officially designated a NASA astronaut one year later. In 1983, he became the first African American to fly in space and the first to receive the U.S. Air Force Command Pilot Astronaut Wings. Bluford was also the first African American to return to space a second, third, and fourth time when he flew on STS-61A in 1985, STS-39 in 1991, and STS-53 in 1992. He has logged more than 688 hours in space.

In 1993, he retired from NASA and the United States Air Force to become the Vice President/General Manager of the Engineering Services Division of NYMA Inc. He led the research support effort in aeropropulsion, satellite systems, microgravity and advanced materials. In 1997, he became the Vice President of the Aerospace Sector of the Federal Data Corporation and led the company’s NASA business. Finally, in 2000, Bluford became the Vice President of Microgravity R&D and Operation for Northrop Grumman Corporation and led the industry team in the development of two experiment facilities currently on the International Space Station. Today, Bluford is the President of the Aerospace Technology Group in Cleveland, Ohio.

Bluford has been awarded the Department of Defense Superior Service and Meritorious Service Medals; the Air Force Legion of Merit and Meritorious Service Medal; the NASA Distinguished Service and Exceptional Service Medals; the Pennsylvania Distinguished Service Medal; the 1991 Black Engineer of the Year Award and fourteen honorary doctorate degrees. He was inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame in 1997 and the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame in 2010

Guion Stewart Bluford, Jr. was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on May 9, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.165

Sex

Male

Interview Date

5/9/2013

Last Name

Bluford

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Stewart

Schools

Air Force Institute of Technology

University of Houston

Pennsylvania State University

Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Any

First Name

Guion

Birth City, State, Country

Philadelphia

HM ID

BLU01

Speakers Bureau Preferred Audience

Any

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

Yes - $4000-$7500

Favorite Season

Summer

Speaker Bureau Notes

For commencement speeches in which an honorary doctorate degree is confirmed, no honorarium is charged,

State

Pennsylvania

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

Do what you love and love what you do.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Ohio

Birth Date

11/22/1942

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Cleveland

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Steak, Lobster

Short Description

Astronaut and military officer Guion Bluford (1942 - ) , flew 144 combat missions in Southeast Asia as an F4C fighter pilot and served as a Branch Chief in the Air Force Flight Dynamics Laboratory. He became the first African American astronaut to fly in space on STS-8 (1983, shuttle Challenger), and the first African American to return to space a 2nd, 3rd, and 4th time on STS-61-A (1985, shuttle Challenger), STS-39 (1991, shuttle Discovery) and STS-53 (1992, shuttle Discovery). Bluford retired from NASA and the Air Force in 1993 to become a senior aerospace industry executive.

Employment

Aerospace Technology Group

Northrop Grumman Information Technology

Federal Data Corporation

NYMA Inc.

Johnson Space Center

Air Force Flight Dynamics Laboratory

3630th Flying Training Wing

12th Tactical Fighter Wing

Favorite Color

Beige

Timing Pairs
0,0:3596,55:4092,60:4712,66:10116,146:11068,154:15320,224:15788,304:21382,378:25848,451:30005,503:31865,539:32330,545:34097,573:37724,618:39398,639:39863,648:40514,670:44482,678:45014,687:45470,695:45774,701:47978,738:48358,744:49118,753:49726,762:52752,775:53088,780:53424,785:56280,841:56784,859:57372,868:59808,912:60228,918:61068,929:61488,935:64543,948:65089,956:66727,976:67182,982:67728,990:68183,997:73613,1059:73937,1065:74990,1078:76286,1109:76934,1119:77906,1138:80678,1150:85554,1202:86296,1211:88204,1252:88628,1257:90642,1273:93398,1307:95624,1342:98062,1367:98698,1375:101960,1388:102560,1395:106260,1430:107060,1439:107760,1447:115720,1525:119210,1735:119630,1743:122566,1787:122936,1793:123232,1798:123750,1803:128058,1841:128410,1846:128850,1852:131842,1902:135714,1969:141333,2068:142045,2080:143024,2095:146310,2119:148480,2162:148970,2171:149250,2176:149530,2181:149880,2187:150300,2194:150720,2202:152400,2305:159890,2393:161562,2415:162706,2429:163498,2440:163938,2446:164466,2454:168624,2478:170760,2494:171120,2502:171840,2511:172290,2525:174368,2539:175369,2553:175908,2558:178603,2615:178911,2620:179219,2625:180451,2647:182145,2684:182761,2694:183146,2700:187680,2725:188538,2739:188928,2745:192004,2780:192596,2790:192966,2796:193632,2808:197480,2879:197924,2886:198516,2895:199182,2912:203906,2944:204362,2952:206186,2977:206642,2984:207250,2993:207858,3003:208922,3020:209758,3040:214570,3085:214906,3090:215914,3130:228972,3279:231130,3303:239238,3398:242046,3438:243684,3467:244542,3480:244932,3486:246102,3512:246570,3519:247116,3538:247740,3548:249222,3580:253590,3595:261428,3684:261968,3690:266396,3745:267692,3762:268232,3769:269096,3779:269852,3787:270932,3801:275315,3808:276080,3818:276505,3824:277015,3832:277695,3841:279480,3875:280840,3893:281265,3899:281945,3908:284410,3917:287380,3975:290530,4019:290890,4024:291610,4034:295480,4079:299150,4103:299950,4113:300350,4118:301350,4128:301850,4134:302350,4140:306850,4197:307250,4202:307750,4208:308450,4218:309850,4234:310550,4243:314422,4266:315362,4279:316620,4285:319260,4322:320404,4339:320932,4346:321460,4352:323044,4403:323660,4411:324364,4421:324804,4427:330640,4481:331020,4486:332065,4499:332635,4506:334535,4558:335960,4577:343566,4635:344610,4650:345045,4656:346437,4673:347046,4681:347829,4693:351570,4748:357266,4808:357646,4814:359242,4843:359622,4849:360002,4855:360534,4864:360990,4872:366462,4964:369936,4979:370401,4985:371145,4994:371610,5000:372819,5014:373563,5023:374400,5032:378310,5065:380150,5105:384310,5196:384790,5203:385830,5220:391800,5267:392080,5272:392640,5281:394950,5320:395650,5332:396560,5347:400958,5390:402820,5413:403310,5420:404290,5429:404682,5434:405466,5450:405858,5455:406544,5473:412766,5513:413176,5520:413586,5526:414898,5548:415718,5564:421048,5669:427880,5713:428184,5718:430870,5739$0,0:552,6:1312,11:1616,16:2528,34:3212,84:4124,99:4580,137:4960,143:5416,151:5720,156:11420,279:12028,290:12408,296:13320,320:21632,393:26614,462:27648,475:29904,506:30280,511:37405,573:39615,621:40975,648:41570,659:42165,668:42760,675:43185,681:44035,694:44375,699:49725,746:50175,754:54075,846:54900,861:56250,884:56625,890:57525,904:59625,947:64762,980:65798,995:66242,1002:67944,1031:68536,1041:69572,1062:70238,1072:70830,1083:71348,1093:71644,1098:72310,1111:72754,1119:73568,1138:76729,1154:79302,1195:79883,1203:80381,1209:81460,1233:82207,1243:83120,1258:87746,1291:88208,1300:88472,1305:89066,1318:89924,1356:90584,1367:91442,1382:92102,1396:92762,1407:93620,1447:100098,1503:100418,1509:100930,1519:101250,1525:103746,1580:104834,1602:105154,1608:110764,1669:112324,1690:112636,1695:113416,1706:115366,1749:118408,1817:121510,1839
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Guion Bluford's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Guion Bluford lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Guion Bluford describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Guion Bluford talks about his mother's education and her career as a teacher

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Guion Bluford talks about growing up in a non-segregated environment in Philadelphia, and talks about his mother's career, personality and interests

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Guion Bluford describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Guion Bluford describes his father's education, and how his parents met at Alcorn A&M College in the 1930s

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Guion Bluford describes his father's employment as an engineer, and his family's early life in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Guion Bluford describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Guion Bluford talks about his brothers, and about growing up in Philadelphia

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Guion Bluford describes the demographics of West Philadelphia during his childhood years and describes his interests as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Guion Bluford talks about his childhood interest in airplanes as well as joining the Boy Scouts

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Guion Bluford describes his experience at the YMCA and what influenced his childhood interest in becoming an aerospace engineer

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Guion Bluford describes his experience in elementary school and junior high school in Philadelphia

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Guion Bluford describes his experience in high school in Philadelphia

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Guion Bluford talks about his role models in engineering and his interest in pursuing a career in aeronautical engineering

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Guion Bluford talks about his teachers in school, his decision to attend Pennsylvania State University and his encounter with a college counselor

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Guion Bluford talks about his father's struggle with epilepsy, his mother career as a school teacher, and his grandfather's influence on his life

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Guion Bluford talks about his interest in solving puzzles and his decision to attend Pennsylvania State University for his undergraduate studies

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Guion Bluford talks about his graduating class at Overbrook High School in Philadelphia

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Guion Bluford describes his experience as an undergraduate student at Pennsylvania State University

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Guion Bluford describes his family's involvement in the Christian Science church

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Guion Bluford describes his fear of heights and hospitals

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Guion Bluford describes his social experience at Pennsylvania State University in the 1960s

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Guion Bluford talks about his decision to enroll in the Air Force Advanced ROTC Course and join the U.S. Air Force as an engineer

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Guion Bluford talks about how he met his wife, Linda Tull

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Guion Bluford talks about his decision to become a pilot in the U.S. Air Force

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Guion Bluford describes his senior year at Penn State University

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Guion Bluford talks about graduating from Penn State University

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Guion Bluford talks about Professor Leslie Greenhill and Professor Barnes McCormick, who were his mentors at Penn State University

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Guion Bluford talks about his early married life and the few months following his graduation from Penn State University

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Guion Bluford talks about his initial experience on Williams Air Force Base

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Guion Bluford describes his pilot training experience on Williams Air Force Base in 1965

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Guion Bluford talks about Air Force pilot Chappie James and his first assignment out of pilot training in 1966

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Guion Bluford talks about the low percentage of black pilots in the U.S. Air Force

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Guion Bluford describes his service as a U.S. Air Force fighter pilot in Vietnam, from 1966 to 1967 - part one

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Guion Bluford describes his service as a U.S. Air Force fighter pilot in Vietnam, from 1966 to 1967 - part two

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Guion Bluford talks about his fighter plane being shot at while he was in Vietnam

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Guion Bluford shares his perspective on the Vietnam War

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Guion Bluford talks about his decision to become an instructor pilot and his experience at Sheppard Air Force Base

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Guion Bluford talks about his decision to pursue graduate school

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Guion Bluford talks about Robert Lawrence

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Guion Bluford describes his experience in the master's degree program at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Guion Bluford describes his decision to pursue a Ph.D. degree in aerospace engineering

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Guion Bluford describes his experience as a doctoral student in aerospace engineering

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Guion Bluford discusses his doctoral dissertation on determining a numerical solution to describe the flow around a delta wing at hypersonic speeds

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Guion Bluford describes his decision to apply for the NASA astronaut program in 1977

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Guion Bluford describes his selection to the NASA astronaut program in 1978

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$2

DAStory

2$5

DATitle
Guion Bluford describes his service as a U.S. Air Force fighter pilot in Vietnam, from 1966 to 1967 - part one
Guion Bluford describes his experience at the YMCA and what influenced his childhood interest in becoming an aerospace engineer
Transcript
So, I got--$$So after--(simultaneous)--$$--I graduated from pilot training [at Williams Air Force Base, Mesa, Arizona], F-4Cs, frontline, Moc II, fighter bomber, Vietnam, Southeast Asia. That was my assignment.$$You were a bomber pilot?$$Fighter pilot. This is fighter pilot--(simultaneous)--$$Fighter pilot, okay.$$This is fighter pilot.$$All right, and you were flying the, what was the plane that you--$$F-4C Phantom.$$F-4C, okay.$$F-4C Phantom, brand new fighter airplane. It used to be a [U.S.] Navy airplane. Then the [U.S.] Air Force liked it and made it an Air Force airplane, "C" version. So after pilot training, I went to, left the wife [Linda Tull] and kids in Phoenix, went to Reno, Nevada to stay there for a space for three weeks of survival school. And then from there, I went down to Davis-Monthan [Air Force Base] in Tucson [Arizona], wife and kids, we all went down to Tucson for two or three months for radar school. And then we went to MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, and I flew the machine, learned to fly it, take off, land, refuel, drop bombs, all that sort of stuff, about six months flying, six months. In October of '65 [1965] I sent the wife, and took the wife and kids to Philadelphia [Pennsylvania], got them situated and in October of sixty--not '65 [1965], October of '66' [1966], excuse me, October of '66 [1966], I went to Vietnam. My orders were to go to Ubon Air Base, 433rd Tactical Fighter Squadron. And if I had gotten there, I would have flown for [Daniel] Chappie James [Jr; fighter pilot in the U.S. Air Force, who in 1975 became the first black American to reach the rank of four-star general] and Robin Olds [fighter pilot and general officer in the U.S. Air Force], two fighter pilots who ran the wing up there. And this would have been primarily, I would have flown Air cap over North Vietnam, primarily, you know, shooting down MiGs, defending thuds [fighter bomber], F-105s, that sort of thing.$$You said, "if" you had gotten there?$$Yeah, I didn't get there. I'll tell you why.$$Okay.$$But that's where I was assigned. So, once I got the wife and kids up in Philadelphia, matter of fact, I left and they were still living with my parents [Harriett Lolita Brice Blueford and Guion Bluford, Sr.] 'cause they had--we didn't have enough time to get an apartment for 'em, and then I left. I was gone for nine months. I went from there to, I flew from there to Travis Air Force Base in California. I hopped a transport with, full of military guys going to Vietnam. The airplane flew from California to Hawaii. We got off the airplane in Hawaii just long enough to stretch our legs, and then we flew from there to Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines, great big Air Force base in the Philippines. I got to Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines, got off the airplane and they said, have you gone through jungle survival training? And I said, no. So they slowed me up about a week or so, and I took a jungle survival course at Clark, which was exciting, you know, learn how to eat, how to live in the jungle, took classes, did escape and evasion, how to escape and evade in the jungle, POW [prisoner of war] training, all that sort of stuff. While I was there, they changed my orders. They flipped me from there to 12th Tact Fighter Wing, Cam Ranh Bay [Vietnam]. 12th Tact Fighter Wing had deployed all, the whole wing deployed to Cam Ranh Bay. And the, the members of the wing were all finishing up their assignment, and they were coming back. They needed people to replace 'em. And so instead of going to Ubon, Thailand, I went to Cam Ranh Bay and South Vietnam, Twelfth Tact Fighter Wing, a wing of maybe four squadrons and F-4C Phantoms. So we must have had eighty fighters, great, great big fighter base. It was also a transport base, lots of military transports go in there. We had a hospital there, a major hospital facility there, and the [U.S.] Navy had a port there. So it was a great, big--it was a major base. So I flew nine months in Vietnam, and I flew out of Cam Ranh Bay, 144 missions total, dropped bombs all over Southeast Asia, South Vietnam, North Vietnam, Laos. I had sixty-five missions over North Vietnam. Primarily, they were air cover. When I did fly that way, we would take off out of Cam Ranh Bay and fly North. We would refuel just, just below the DMZ [The Korean Demilitarized Zone] between North and South Vietnam, and go up and fly six hour mission, air cap, come back, refuel coming back and then come home, good six-hour mission, did long missions. So lots of triple A. I still remember being shot at by a 85 millimeter. I still remember my last mission where I got deployed, scrambled off the alert path. We had two or three fighters that sat on the alert pad. And as, and they would assign you to the alert pad, which would mean you live in trailers out near the runway, and they would scramble fighters in, if they had an emergency some place. I still remember being scrambled and dropping bombs on active, triple A site in the DMZ between the North and South Vietnam. I still remember seeing all those tracers and all that sort of stuff, still remember flying, coming home one day and having a wing, a bullet hole in the wing. The best missions flying out of Cam Ranh Bay were ground support and supporting the ground guys. You'd fly in--see the [U.S.] Army guys all ready to take a piece of real estate, and you drop bombs on 'em, you drop 500-pound slicks as well high drag bombs, fired rockets. We had, the airplane didn't have a internal gun. So if we had to stray, we had to carry a gun pod which worked some of the time and which didn't work some of the time. It was nine months of doing that.$I was also very involved with the YMCA [Young Men's Christian Association]. In the summertime, my mother [Harriet Lolita Brice Bluford] would give me some money. I would hop the bus and L [subway] and go to the Central Y [YMCA], downtown Philadelphia [Pennsylvania]. And, and that was a major event, you know, in the summertime. I learned how to swim at the Y. I worked out, and they had calisthenics and gym activity, played basketball. I learned to play checkers and chess and ping pong, and I got good enough at checkers--at ping pong and chess that when I was in high school, I was on the Chess Team and on the Ping Pong Team. So it had that. The YMCA was also a major factor in my life because I learned how to make model airplanes, part of being at the Y. We'd get on, I'd get up and go to the Y every day. It would be a full-day activity. But part of it was, I made model airplanes and ships and so forth and so on. So my model building developed at the Y, and that led to my strong interest in airplanes and my desire to eventually, to be an aerospace engineer. Plus, the fact that I liked math, I really like--I'm a math guy. So a combination of all of that just drove me towards being what I wanted to be, an aerospace engineer. And then you copy--you put on top of that the fact that I had a father [Guion Bluford, Sr.] who was a mechanical engineer. Not only was he a mechanical engineer, but he loved what he did. He loved what he did.$$Yeah, I read that he would come, he would leave the house excited every morning.$$Oh, he was, he, he enjoyed--he never brought the, he never brought his work home, but I knew he loved what he did. And that was, that was a very motivating factor for me because that's why I sort of said, "Do what you love, and love what you do," you know, so. So I grew up in that world.

Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr.

Astronaut, medical scientist, and management executive Bernard A. Harris was born in Temple, Texas on June 26, 1956 to Bernard A. Harris, Sr. and Gussie Emanual Harris. During his youth, Harris lived on the Navajo reservations of Arizona and New Mexico, where his mother found employment as a teacher. At the age of thirteen, Harris watched the first landing on the moon, and he knew that he wanted to become an astronaut. Harris’s family returned to Texas shortly after, and he graduated from Sam Houston High School in San Antonio, Texas in 1974. During high school, Harris decided he wanted to be a medical doctor and so attended the University of Houston, where he earned his B.S. degree in biology in 1978, and the Texas Tech University Health Science Center of Medicine, where he received his M.D. degree in 1982. He then completed his residency in internal medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

Never forgetting his aspirations to become an astronaut, Harris followed a career path that would enable him to realize this dream. Upon completing his residency, Harris pursued research opportunities at Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, and later the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, specifically taking up projects that would appeal to the interests of the astronaut selection committee. After his first application to the NASA Astronaut Corps. was declined, Harris reapplied and was invited to join the elite training group in 1990. Following the completion of intensive training, Harris was given his first assignment as a mission specialist of the Space Shuttle Columbia in the spring of 1993, just a few months after the birth of his daughter, Brooke Alexandria. Two years later, Harris returned to space and made history as the first African American to walk in space, where he and crew member Michael Foale tested the temperature resilience of their spacesuits.

Following his career in astronautics, Harris became an entrepreneur, working first as vice president of Spacehab, Inc. in 1996, where he worked on the commercialization of space exploration. After earning his M.B.A. degree from the University of Houston Clear Lake, Harris became executive director of Versalius Ventures in 2001.

Harris has received much recognition for his work as astronaut, entrepreneur, and as a community developer. In addition to becoming a fellow of the American College of Physicians, he is also the winner of The Challenger Award from the Ronald E. McNair Foundation, and recipient of the prestigious Horatio Alger Award. The Dr. Bernard A. Harris Middle School was named in his honor in 2006. That same year Harris established the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp and the Dream Tour, two STEM programs to encourage minority students to pursue an interest in the sciences.

Bernard Harris was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 6, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.034

Sex

Male

Interview Date

2/6/2013 |and| 3/4/2014

Last Name

Harris

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Middle Name

A.

Schools

Sam Houston High School

University of Houston

Texas Tech University Health Science Center School of Medicine

University of Houston-Clear Lake

University of Texas Medical Branch

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Bernard

Birth City, State, Country

Temple

HM ID

HAR39

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Texas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Triple Creek Ranch, Montana

Favorite Quote

Dreams Are The Reality Of The Future.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Texas

Birth Date

6/26/1956

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Houston

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Corn

Short Description

Astronaut and medical scientist Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. (1956 - ) was best known for being the first African American to walk in space.

Employment

Mayo Clinic

National Research Council (NRC)

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Johnson Space Center

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Astronaut Corp.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Space Lab, Inc.

Space Media, Inc.

Vesalius Ventures, Inc.

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
0,0:4296,141:5998,150:6960,166:8884,198:9846,222:12288,277:12584,282:12954,288:18379,338:18864,344:23229,423:26106,438:26486,444:27018,453:27474,468:30955,500:33380,524:41360,676:42032,685:43800,695:44955,725:46572,771:46957,777:49384,797:49828,804:50346,812:50642,817:52122,837:52566,844:53084,853:53380,858:53824,866:54712,887:55082,893:55822,904:63441,994:63986,999:65294,1014:66166,1023:66711,1029:67910,1058:70575,1071:71025,1078:73125,1117:74175,1134:75000,1148:75900,1168:76650,1179:78000,1210:79650,1241:80625,1256:81600,1281:83325,1328:83625,1333:91210,1428:91630,1435:92680,1458:96600,1536:97370,1551:97720,1557:102220,1601:102540,1606:103020,1614:104060,1629:104620,1638:105180,1646:105980,1657:106300,1662:107020,1675:107500,1682:111340,1757:112380,1778:113500,1795:113820,1800:115340,1825:115660,1830:120800,1865:121600,1876:123322,1885:124060,1895:125126,1916:125864,1933:129353,1965:129850,1974:130347,1982:145076,2224:145441,2230:145952,2240:146536,2249:146901,2255:148142,2280:148434,2285:149748,2326:150405,2337:151354,2352:154450,2371:155024,2379:155598,2389:155926,2394:156254,2399:158878,2445:159780,2461:160846,2481:161256,2487:161584,2492:164208,2542:164536,2547:166750,2593:176020,2693:176420,2699:177940,2737:185620,2865:187220,2954:195606,3135:195978,3142:198086,3242:198396,3248:198706,3254:199202,3264:199512,3272:200008,3281:200442,3289:201000,3300:204224,3364:204660,3369:205205,3375:210243,3436:211521,3511:214077,3563:215497,3596:228630,3831:231910,3908:234790,3963:235990,3982:240350,4010:241680,4036:242310,4047:242660,4053:243360,4065:243780,4072:244760,4089:246440,4123:247280,4139:247560,4144:248540,4162:249170,4174:250080,4194:250360,4199:259160,4226:263410,4303$0,0:1340,8:2042,18:2510,25:9520,106:10400,121:10928,128:14554,158:14930,163:17656,204:20570,243:21510,286:22356,297:35440,471:36000,479:37520,513:38240,524:39040,532:40720,554:41280,562:44800,585:45120,590:45760,599:50720,681:53167,691:53512,697:53995,706:57876,753:59390,762:59785,768:60180,774:61997,835:65157,883:65473,888:65947,895:67685,919:68554,948:69265,960:69581,965:73132,990:73428,995:74908,1033:76240,1054:76758,1062:83444,1202:88340,1269:89462,1285:91808,1328:95174,1392:95990,1403:99707,1408:100259,1417:103157,1551:103502,1557:104192,1573:109135,1637:109530,1643:114033,1738:115060,1758:115455,1764:115929,1772:121311,1821:122184,1832:122766,1898:129944,1996:131108,2026:135210,2043
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. describes his mother's upbringing in Texas

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. talks about his parents, and his family's early life in Houston, Texas

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. talks about the year following his parents' divorce

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. talks about his father

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. talks about his sister, Gillette Emmanuel

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. describes his family's experience on the Navajo reservation in Greasewood, Arizona

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. describes his cultural experience on the Navajo reservation in Greasewood, Arizona

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. talks his childhood interests while living in Greasewood, Arizona

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. describes his experience in Tohatchi, New Mexico

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. talks about his introduction to science and the space program

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. talks about astronauts Ed Dwight and Robert Lawrence

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. talks about the 1969 moon landing

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. talks about his interest in playing the saxophone

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. talks about his childhood personality, and his teachers and mentors in school

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. talks about his brother, Dennis Harris

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. talks about being in a band named 'Purple Haze'

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. describes his experience at Sam Houston High School

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. talks about his role models in medicine and astronautics

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. talks about his senior year of high school and his summers with his band

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. talks about his father attending his high school graduation

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. talks about his mentors at the University of Houston

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Slating of Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr.'s interview, session 2

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. remembers pledging to the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. talks about his early mentors

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. remembers applying to medical school

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. describes the medical program at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. remembers applying for his medical residency

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. describes his early aspiration to become an astronaut, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. describes the impact of space travel on the human body

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. recalls his work at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. remembers the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. remembers the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. describes his early aspiration to become an astronaut, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. recalls his early career at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. remembers the NASA Astronaut Candidate Program

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. talks about the types of astronaut positions

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. recalls his space flight training in Russia

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. remembers his first NASA mission

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. talks about the zero gravity simulation training at NASA

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. describes the preparations for space flight, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. talks about the demographics of NASA

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. describes the preparations for space flight, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. recalls his experiences of the space shuttle launch

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. describes the adjustment to zero gravity

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. describes his experiences of space travel, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. describes his experiences of space travel, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. talks about the space shuttle intra-crew dynamics

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. describes the daily life of an astronaut

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. talks about his second mission with NASA

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. remembers his first spacewalk

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. describes the space shuttle reentry process

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. talks about the findings of his NASA space missions

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. remembers his decision to leave NASA

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. talks about his graduate studies and his work with Space Media, Inc.

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. describes The Harris Foundation

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. recalls the start of Vesalius Ventures, Inc.

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. describes his medical career

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. talks about the American Telemedicine Association

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. describes his company, Vesalius Ventures, Inc.

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. talks about his memoir, 'Dream Walker: A Journey of Achievement and Inspiration'

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. recalls bringing the Navajo Nation flag into space

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. talks about his daughter

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. reflects upon his life and spirituality

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. reflects upon his experiences as an astronaut

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$3

DAStory

7$8

DATitle
Bernard Harris talks about his introduction to science and the space program
Bernard Harris talks about his role models in medicine and astronautics
Transcript
Now, did you--now, was it in Tohatchi [New Mexico, on the Navajo reservation, where Harris' mother, Gussie Lee Burgess, worked as a teacher] that you first were, you know, were exposed, I guess, or became cognizant of the space program?$$Um-hum, yep--$$Okay.$$--because I was, that would make me about eleven, twelve. Now, you know, the space program is heating, you know, it's kind of heating up. We have put a man into orbit, and now we're into the Apollo [space] program. And so I watched that develop, and when I was thirteen, '69 [1969] was when it really all kind of came together for me. But, yeah, that's when I--and I also got involved in science. You asked the question earlier. That's, now, you're into--you know, you've gotten out of kind of out of the basic elementary, and now you're getting into biology and then in junior high and high school, chemistry. Now, I'm being exposed to science. I'm being exposed to, you know, chemistry, to aviation. I belong to the Rocket Club where we built rockets, Estes rockets [model rockets]. We even built a flying saucer that left a, you know, real big impression on me because I was also, now, I've got television reception, right? So then I'm watching 'Buck Rogers' and I'm watching 'Star Trek' and, you know, I'm watching sci-fi [science fiction] shows. It's just feeding the imagination of this kid.$$Now, how--I'm tempted to ask, and when you mentioned the flying saucer--$$Yeah.$$--how close Tohatchi is to Roswell [New Mexico].$$(Laughter) I know, I know. Well, this is one of those plastic flying saucers, right? And it was, what made it interesting is when the teacher introduced this concept of a flying saucer, of course, you know, I was all into it. And it had a fan. And he introduced it at the beginning of the year which is in, kind of the late summer, fall, so it was hot. So I distinctly remember taking it outside, turning the thing on, and it didn't lift off the ground, and then the teacher explaining why it didn't lift off the ground. First of all, it was hot, and our altitude--I can't remember were we at 5,000 feet, 4,000 feet, just under 5,000 feet. So the altitude, there was not enough air to get lift. So when we had our first snow, the exciting thing about it was that we all went outside, and I remember this like it was yesterday, outside of his classroom, and the snow is falling. It's cold outside. We turn the flying saucer on and it rises. So now, he's got, you know, these kids just mesmerized. Now, why did this happen? Now, he's teaching us about, you know, aerodynamics and density of air and all that sort of thing. And I was soaking it up, you know, as a kid.$$So you're about thirteen when this--$$Yeah, probably, probably twelve at this point--$$Okay.$$--I'm trying to think about it, though, probably twelve.$$Let me ask you, now, you were aware of John Glenn's [first American to orbit the Earth, and the fifth person in space] orbiting the--$$Um-hum.$$--earth when you're a kid?$$Yeah.$$And did you, were you aware of Ed Dwight [first African American to be trained as an astronaut; also a HistoryMaker] and Robert Lawrence [first African American astronaut] when you were coming up?$$No, no, not at all. I didn't learn about those two until I actually started working at NASA [National Aeronautics and Space Administration], you know, many years later, you know, in about '87 [1987] is when I first started working at NASA.$$Okay.$$And we can get to that. That's a story--I have a story around that too, of course.$$Now, in terms of information too, coming into the household, did your mother subscribe to 'JET' [magazine] or 'Ebony' [magazine] or anything like that?$$Of course, yeah. 'Ebony' and 'JET' were the main magazines and 'LIFE' [magazine] at the time.$$All right, so I'm just thinking the information flow of what you were getting, and, you know.$$So, you know, the information flow I was getting was, now, getting a lot more because we're closer to, you know, to the city. And so I'm able to follow the space program and what's happening in the newspapers that we've got and the magazines. But more importantly, now, we've got a television that has four channels. Can you imagine that? Four channels (laughter).$$That was good for 1967.$$It was (laughter).$Another important person from what I've read is, Dr. Frank Bryant.$$Dr. Frank Bryant, yeah. Yeah, so Dr. Bryant was our family physician. And, you know, in high school, he wasn't as big an influence as later on when I would come back during college [University of Houston, Texas] and during the summers and began to think, you know, that I wanted to become a medical doctor and pre-med and then start chatting with him about next steps. You know, so how do I get into medical school? How do I do that and him taking the time to introduce me to other medical students and to let me come into his office and invite me over to his home. That was, that was very important. But I think the other thing is that early on I saw him as a prominent African American doing great things for his community. And so he became a role model. I have these two types of role models. There are role models that are hands-on, that work with you, and there are role models from afar. So I would say in high school, he was a role model from afar because all--my only contact with him was when we'd go and see him as a physician. But I saw what he did. I watched what he did. I watched how he interacted with the family. And then he became this hands-on role model. If I was to back up to, you know, the inspiration I got from the early space program, those were role models from afar that I saw. So when I got into thinking that I wanted to be an astronaut, you know, Neil Armstrong and Buzz [Aldrin; American astronauts; the first to walk on the moon] were these guys that I had never met, but I watched what they did. Joe Kerwin who was the first American physician to go into space, I watched what he did. And it's been kind of interesting being an astronaut, being able to talk to these guys, you know, as a colleague and growing up seeing them, you know, and now being able to sit down and talk to them and going, "Wow, did you really go to the moon?" (laughter) And have them say, "Yes, I was there and this is what it was like." (laughter)

Leland Melvin

Aerospace engineer Leland D. Melvin was born in Lynchburg, Virginia on February 15, 1964 to Deems and Grace Melvin. Upon graduating from Heritage High School in 1982, Melvin was awarded a football scholarship to attend the University of Richmond. He earned his B.A. degree in chemistry from the University of Richmond in 1986, and his M.S. degree in materials science engineering from the University of Virginia in 1991.

From 1982 to 1985, Melvin was a wide receiver on the University of Richmond football team, where he became the all-time reception leader and was an Associated Press All-America selection in 1984 and 1985. The Detroit Lions selected Melvin in the eleventh round of the 1986 National Football League player draft. Several months later, he suffered a hamstring injury and was unable to fully recover. Melvin’s NASA career began in 1989 in the Fiber Optic Sensors group of the Nondestructive Evaluation Sciences Branch at NASA Langley Research Center, where he conducted research in the area of physical measurements for the development of advanced instrumentation for nondestructive evaluation. In 1994, Melvin was selected to lead the vehicle health monitoring team for the cooperative Lockheed/NASA X-33 Reusable Launch Vehicle program.

In 1998, Melvin was selected into the NASA Astronaut Corps. He flew into space twice on the
STS-122 in 2008 and STS-129 in 2009. Both missions were aboard the orbiter Atlantis. Melvin has logged more than 565 hours in space. Additionally, Melvin has served the Astronaut Office Space Station Operations Branch and the Robotics Branch of the Astronaut Office. In 2010, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden selected Melvin as the associate administrator for education. In this position, Melvin travels throughout the U.S. engaging thousands of students and teachers in the excitement of space exploration and inspiring them to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Melvin was also selected to serve on the White House National Science and Technology Council’s Committee on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Education and is the U.S. representative on the International Space Education Board.

Melvin is a member of the American Chemical Society and the Society for Experimental Mechanics. He also holds honorary doctorates from Centre College, St Paul's College and Campbellsville University.

Leland D. Melvin was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on January 15, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.018

Sex

Male

Interview Date

1/15/2013

Last Name

Melvin

Maker Category
Marital Status

Single

Occupation
Schools

Heritage High School

University of Richmond

University of Virginia

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Leland

Birth City, State, Country

Lynchburg

HM ID

MEL03

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Virginia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Zihuatanejo, Mexico

Favorite Quote

Believe in yourself. Don't limit yourself. The sky is the limit.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

2/15/1964

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Short Description

Astronaut Leland Melvin (1964 - ) , former astronaut serving twice as mission specialist on board the Space Shuttle Atlantis, is NASA Associate Administrator of Education.

Employment

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Johnson Space Center

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Langley Research Center

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Leland Melvin's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Leland Melvin lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Leland Melvin describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Leland Melvin describes his mother's educational background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Leland Melvin describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Leland Melvin talks about his aunt

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Leland Melvin talks about his father's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Leland Melvin talks about his father's service in World War II

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Leland Melvin describes his father's educational background and involvement in sports

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Leland Melvin talks about his father's teaching experience

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Leland Melvin describes how his parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Leland Melvin describes his parents' personalities

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Leland Melvin describes his family growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Leland Melvin describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Leland Melvin talks about the origin of his name

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Leland Melvin describes his childhood neighborhood

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Leland Melvin describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Leland Melvin describes himself as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Leland Melvin talks about his early interest in science, space, and photography

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Leland Melvin describes his family camping trips

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Leland Melvin describes his early education

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Leland Melvin describes a lesson learned on the football field

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Leland Melvin talks about studying math in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Leland Melvin describes his decision to study chemistry at the University of Richmond

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Leland Melvin describes his college research

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Leland Melvin talks about being drafted by the Detroit Lions

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Leland Melvin talks about training with the Detroit Lions

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Leland Melvin talks about the Dallas Cowboys and the University of Virginia

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Leland Melvin talks about his musical background

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Leland Melvin talks about football and head trauma

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Leland Melvin talks about his transition to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Leland Melvin describes his graduate research

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Leland Melvin describes his work at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Leland Melvin talks about becoming an astronaut

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Leland Melvin describes his experience in Russia

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Leland Melvin talks about the International Space Station

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Leland Melvin talks about his hearing and his work with the Educator Astronaut Program

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Leland Melvin describes his astronaut training

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Leland Melvin describes his space flights - part one

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Leland Melvin describes his space flights - part two

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Leland Melvin talks about the effects of space travel on the body

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Leland Melvin talks about other crew members during his space flights

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Leland Melvin talks about what he has learned from his space flights

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Leland Melvin describes his work in the Office of Education

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Leland Melvin discusses his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Leland Melvin reflects upon his career

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Leland Melvin talks about his aspirations to have a family

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Leland Melvin talks about his legacy and how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

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DAStory

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DATitle
Leland Melvin describes his work at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Leland Melvin describes his space flights - part one
Transcript
Okay. NASA, now, I have a note here that you worked on the Fiber Optics Sensors Group of the Nondestructive Evaluation Science Branch, right?$$Uh-huh.$$Now, what is Nondestructive Evaluation?$$So, the branch that are working at NASA [National Aeronautics and Space Administration] Langley looked at using different types of energy to assess damaged states in aerospace vehicles. So if you have an airplane that has lab joints that are bonded together with adhesive and also have rivets going along the top of them, we had problems with rivets coming apart, and the only thing holding that wing together would be the adhesive below it. So we would actually take, using Xray, using lasers, using different types of ultrasonics, using different types of energy and nondestructively or in a non-contacting way, we would put the energy in and then make measurements of what the subsurface damage was underneath that wing, or in the case of the space shuttle, how much is a tile damaged. Is the tile about to dis-bond from the surface of the shuttle, you know, so you could use a technique that you wouldn't have destroy it none destructive to see how the damage state was subsurface. And so whatever type of energy you could use to do that none contacting or none intrusively we could use, and then that would save time and money in having to repair things that necessarily didn't need to be prepared. So I would take and use optical techniques for this but also use optical fibers that you could take a fiber and use it to interrogate a damaged state of a structure so the fiber could measure strain if you bond it to the surface of something. As the fiber is pulled, the laser light that goes through it actually changes wave length at these seams called (unclear)or sensors, and that wave length change is proportional to the change in strain. So if you have this vehicle wrapped with sensors and you see different strain states at different locations then you can detect that there's maybe a damaged area around this none uniformed strain state, and we also use them for measuring hydrogen, that we have vehicles that have hydrogen tanks, so you could sniff, use a sensor to sniff for hydrogen instead of having to--and actually be able to locate where that leak is, as well as temperature also. So, multiple measurements, we call it, and out of a very lightweight installable bondable sensors. So, my job was to develop the laboratory; we built an optical fiber drawn for making our own optical fiber. And as we drew the fiber, we had a laser, an excellent laser that was actually etching the sensors into the glass before a coating cup that allowed it to coat it to make the fiber more durable. And so these were high--pretty high-tech sensors that we were making. And the day that we made our first sensor was the day that I got a phone call to come into the astronaut corp, so that was a very fortuitous day for me in a number of areas.$Okay. Now, describe the mission in 2008, what were you to do in space and the steps approaching?$$My first mission, I was in charge of all the robotics activities and the transfer activities. So, I was the lead robotic operator for the, both the arm on the space shuttle and the arm on the space station. Our job was to install the Europeans Columbus laboratory, it's a ESA(sp) laboratory for different material science in biological sciences and other things. I was to grab the--basically grab--use the arm and grab the Columbus module out of the payload bay and attach to the station, and all of our German flight controllers, all of our German friends and European friends had been waiting ten years for this to happen. And so, I remember coming out of a meeting, and one of our, you know, they were celebrating me, you know, are you going to help install our module to get us up on space station. I remember one German flight controller, as I was about to walk out of the room, he said, "Leland, you know, congratulations, high five, we've been waiting ten years, don't' screw it up." And so, no pressure when you're seeing this vehicle getting, you know, this model getting docked to the space station, you're thinking about messing something up, screwing something, but you know, the training kicked in, and it was aligned perfectly, and you know, I can go back to that German flight controller today and say, "I didn't screw it up; you still have your job, things are going well." But, a great sense of accomplishment; that was early in the mission. The rest of the mission was supporting some space walks, attaching--doing different things on the module, itself. And so, that was primarily my role for 2008. And then in 2009--$$What would have happened had you screwed that up and the modules didn't connect the first time? I mean, was there a second chance, like in the in-zone, you know, to catch--$$Well, it depends on how bad you screw up. I mean, if your bringing--you have this seal around the module that if you damage the seal when you're trying to birth this module, you would make the whole vehicle inoperable, because if you were to damage that, and you do a leak check on it, and if it's leaking, leaking air, then that's pretty much an appendage that's sitting there, it's trash, it's no good, because it can't hold a seal and would compromise the rest of the space station. So a very slight misalignment or scraping of that seal could have rendered it useless. And a multi-billion dollar element, peoples' livelihood, their jobs, at these control centers monitoring the Columbus module, I wouldn't have been a--$$--Popular--$$--A popular guy in Europe or even in the U.S. if I had done that. But again, the training is very good, and had the confidence, even though it's my first time flying the robotic arm, and I had other people that had done that behind me, saying you're doing great, you know, pull this in here; it was fantastic.$$So, the very idea that you have that assignment, you know, speaks to the confidence of a whole lot of people in you, right?$$Right. I demonstrated that in the training and then working in the robotics branch, also. I think they saw the skill set that I brought to the table. It was evident that I could do the job. But you never know, on a simulator getting to the actual space environment and nerves and so forth, and I think, you know, me being selected into the corp, because I didn't have a lot of operational skills, I never did a lot of flying of air planes, where you have to be exact or your die, or diving or doing mountain climbing, those are some of the skill sets that we looked at for new people coming in, but I think they saw the operational bent of the professional athlete or training and working as a team member was, you know, some confidence to say that you can work in this high stress environment and do a job without, you know, getting rattled or kind of freaked about doing it.$$Okay. So, just for the record, in 2008, you were a missions specialist on board the STS-122 Atlantis, that February of 7th through the 20th, 2008?$$Right.$$Okay. So, you went back after 2009--$$Uh-huh.$$--It was on the same shuttle?$$Same orbiter. I guess I only fly Atlantis, right? I was assigned in I think it was July of 2008 for the next mission, and it was a pretty incredible mission. We had the--my job here was to install spare parts; so again, in charge of robotics and transfer. But also, I was going to be flying around on the end of the arm, another African American astronaut, Dr. Bobby Satcher, who was to do the first orthopedic surgeon to operate on the robotic arm in space. And so it was the first time that two African American men were in space at the same time. And I remember Tom Joyner interviewing us in space; he was calling us the afronauts. And his show has a million person listernership, and there were kids all around the country and people listening, you know, seeing this first, two African American men in space and even to this day, you know, moms seek me out to tell me, "I heard that interview, my son wants to be an astronaut and he's studying physics and science now". So the impact of that mission had on our young African American male men as to seeing some of those like them in that environment, floating and working in space, that they could also do it one day too.$$That's great. Now, this launch was in 2009? What month was this?$$This was in November of 2009. So I spent Thanksgiving in space, eating a rehydrated turkey. And very thankful for the people that were there; thankful for the people that were on the ground in Mission (unclear), spending their thanksgivings monitoring our mission and thankful to our families, you know, who helped us do all that.$$Now, was there anything--did anything go wrong on this mission?$$Yeah, we had--on ascent to space station, there was a medical situation that happened. Actually, on the first mission, there was a--something that happened medically, and I was the crew medical officer, because we didn't have a trained physician on the flight. I volunteered to be the crew medical officer. So, I went through some training, emergency room training and some other different training and actually had to do some things on that mission to help some of our crew mates, but it was very empowering to know that we had to do this, because it was during the docking phase; we had to get this done, or the mission would not be successful; we'd have to come home. And so that was something I felt really comfortable, really good about helping save that mission like that.$$Can you tell us exactly what happened?$$No, I can't tell.$$Okay. I thought so, or else you would have told us. When you think back on these missions--well, there was a second crisis, you said in 2009, a medical--$$No, there wasn't. That was 2008. Okay.