Penn State Set To Honor Astronaut & Alum Colonel Guion Bluford Jr.
Penn State will award Colonel Guion “Guy” Bluford Jr. the 2021 Air Force ROTC Distinguished Alumnus Award and a building dedication at Innovation Park this month for his vast accomplishments throughout his career, the university announced this week.
Bluford graduated from Penn State with an undergraduate degree in aerospace engineering in 1964. In 1978, he became only one of three African Americans in NASA’s astronaut training program. Five years later, Bluford was the first African-American to go to space during his mission inside The Challenger space shuttle.
The 2021 Air Force ROTC Distinguished Alumnus Award is awarded to only one person per year. According to the honor’s description, it recognizes Bluford’s “exceptionally meritorious and superior service to the United States Air Force and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration over 29 years.”
Bluford will receive the award at a public ceremony from 5 to 6 p.m. on October 6 in the HUB’s Freeman Auditorium. Two days later on October 8, Bluford will have 230 Innovation Boulevard named in honor of him.
After graduating from Penn State, Bluford was appointed as a second lieutenant from the Penn State Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps. He joined the Air Force in 1966 and flew 144 combat missions during that time, 65 of which were over North Vietnam.
During his time as an astronaut, Bluford was in space for 688 hours over the course of four space missions. In 1992, he had his last space trip aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery.
Throughout his time working with the Society of Distinguished Alumni and the Committee on Minority Activities, Bluford also continuously advocated for underrepresented groups in the engineering and science fields at Penn State and across the U.S.
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