Open main menu

List of African-American astronauts

The first three African Americans to travel into space – Ronald McNair, Guy Bluford and Fred Gregory

African-American astronauts are Americans of African descent who have either traveled into space or been part of an astronaut program.

African-American astronautsEdit

Traveled into spaceEdit

# Image Name
Birth date
Note Missions (launch date) Sources
1   Guion Bluford
November 22, 1942
First African-American astronaut in space [1]
2   Ronald McNair
October 21, 1950
†January 28, 1986
Died in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster [1]
3   Frederick D. Gregory
January 7, 1941
First African American to pilot and command a Space Shuttle mission; acting Administrator of NASA, 2005 [1]
4   Charles Bolden
August 19, 1946
Administrator of NASA, July 17, 2009 – January 20, 2017 [1]
5   Mae Jemison
October 17, 1956
First African-American woman in space [1]
6   Bernard A. Harris Jr.
June 26, 1956
First African American to walk in space [1]
7   Winston E. Scott
August 6, 1950
Veteran of three spacewalks [1]
8   Robert Curbeam
March 5, 1962
Veteran of seven spacewalks [1]
9   Michael P. Anderson
December 25, 1959
†February 1, 2003
Died in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster [1]
10   Stephanie Wilson
September 27, 1966
11   Joan Higginbotham
August 3, 1964
12   Alvin Drew
November 5, 1962
Veteran of two spacewalks, February 28 and March 2, 2011 [1]
13   Leland D. Melvin
February 15, 1964
Associate Administrator for Education at NASA [1]
14   Robert Satcher
September 22, 1965
EVA November 19 and November 23, 2009 [1]

Never traveled into spaceEdit

Image Name
Birth date
Note Sources
  Robert Henry Lawrence Jr.
October 2, 1935
†December 8, 1967
First African-American astronaut; selected for astronaut training in 1967 for the MOL program; died in an aircraft accident [2]
  Livingston L. Holder, Jr.
September 29, 1956
USAF astronaut in the Manned Spaceflight Engineer Program [3]
  Michael E. Belt
September 9, 1957
Astronaut, payload specialist from TERRA SCOUT – US Army Project; retired January 12, 1991 [4]
  Yvonne Cagle
April 24, 1959
Astronaut [4]
  Jeanette J. Epps
November 2, 1970
On January 5, 2016 NASA announced that Epps would become the first African-American space station crew member when she launched on her would-be first spaceflight in May 2018, as a flight engineer on Expedition 56, remaining on board for Expedition 57. On January 16, 2018, NASA announced that Epps had been replaced by her backup Serena M. Auñón-Chancellor, due to unknown reasons, and has sparked various media attention.
  Victor J. Glover
April 30, 1976
Scheduled to fly on Expedition 62 on USCV-1 [5]
  Jessica Watkins
May 14, 1988
Astronaut candidate, NASA Astronaut Group 22 [6]

Often cited as the First African-American astronaut candidateEdit

Image Name
Birth date
Note Sources
  Ed Dwight
September 9, 1933
Ed Dwight made it to the second round of an Air Force program from which NASA selected astronauts, but was not selected by NASA to be an astronaut. Resigned from the Air Force in 1966 due to racial politics. In July, 1961, Frederick Dutton, special assistant to the president, wrote to Adam Yarmolinsky, special assistant to the secretary of defense to say that it was important "that for symbolic purposes in crossing the frontiers of space, this country would have qualified members from minority backgrounds." Shortly after, General Curtis LeMay, chief of the air force told Chuck Yeager, who was running Aerospace Research Pilot School (ARPS) at Edwards Air Force Base that, "[Attorney General] Bobby Kennedy wants a colored in space. Get one into your course." This communication placed Ed Dwight on a career track that could have sent him into outer space. Dwight proceeded to Phase II of ARPS, but was not selected by NASA to be an astronaut. [7]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "NASA's African-American Astronauts Fact Sheet" (PDF). National Aeronautics and Space Administration. 2018. Retrieved February 22, 2019.
  2. ^ Oberg, James H. (2005-02-23). "The Unsung Astronaut". MSNBC. Archived from the original on 2011-03-07. Retrieved 2011-01-27.
  3. ^ Hoffman, Sarah (March 7, 2019). "A Space Pioneer Charts A Course For Future Astronauts". KCTS9. Retrieved March 11, 2019. He became a satellite countdown controller, worked on classified missions and earned a position with the competitive Manned Spaceflight Engineer program. While training as an astronaut, he witnessed the faces of NASA’s space shuttle program shift to include women and minorities, along with the white men who first inspired him.
  4. ^ a b c Phillips, Kerri (February 8, 2012). "Celebrating Black History Month: NASA's African-American Astronauts". AmericaSpace. Retrieved March 11, 2019. Four other African-Americans were selected by NASA as astronauts that did not have the opportunity to fly in space: Livingston Holder, Michael E. Belt, Yvonne Cagle, and Jeanette J. Epps. Each of these dedicated people believed in the advancement of human knowledge and space exploration, and some made the ultimate sacrifice doing what they felt was worth the risk for this endeavor.
  5. ^ "Victor J. Glover, Jr. (Commander, U.S. Navy) NASA Astronaut". NASA. August 13, 2018. Retrieved March 11, 2019.
  6. ^ Garcia, Mark (2017-06-06). "Astronaut Candidate Jessica Watkins". NASA. Retrieved 2017-06-07.
  7. ^ We Could Not Fail: The First African Americans in the Space Program, Chapter 5, University of Texas Press, Austin, TX, 2015, pp. 86-104