The first three African Americans to travel into space – Ron 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 astronauts

Traveled into space

# Images Names &
Birth dates
Notes Missions & launch dates Sources
1 Guion Bluford
November 22, 1942
First African-American astronaut in space [1]
2 Ronald McNair
October 21, 1950
†January 28, 1986
First Baháʼí in space; 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]
15 Victor J. Glover
April 30, 1976
Joined ISS Expedition 64 as first African-American on an ISS Expedition [2][3]
16 Sian Proctor
March 28, 1970
First African American female Spacecraft Pilot, as part of Inspiration4. First African American commercial Astronaut.
17 Michael Strahan
November 21, 1971
First African American space tourist
18 Jessica Watkins
May 14, 1988
First African American woman to be an ISS expedition crew member
19 Jaison Robinson
September 25, 1980
20 Jeanette J. Epps
November 2, 1970
On August 4, 2023, NASA announced that Epps would join SpaceX Crew-8 that launched to space on March 4, 2024.[4]

(March 4, 2024)


Never traveled into space

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 [6]
Livingston L. Holder Jr.
September 29, 1956
USAF astronaut in the Manned Spaceflight Engineer Program [7]
Michael E. Belt
September 9, 1957
Astronaut, payload specialist from TERRA SCOUT – US Army Project; retired January 12, 1991. Although he did not fly any shuttle missions during his time as an astronaut, he was the back-up payload specialist to Thomas J. Hennen for the STS-44 mission which deployed a military satellite, undergoing 9 months of astronaut training for the role[8] He was selected as an astronaut through the US Army's Terra Scout program which was created specifically to support STS-44.[9] [5]
Yvonne Cagle
April 24, 1959
In NASA management [5]

Often cited as the first African-American astronaut candidate

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. [10]

See also


  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. ^ "Victor J. Glover, Jr. (Commander, U.S. Navy) NASA Astronaut". NASA. August 13, 2018. Archived from the original on August 8, 2018. Retrieved March 11, 2019.
  3. ^ "SpaceX launches 2nd crew, regular station crew flights begin". November 15, 2020. Retrieved November 15, 2020.
  4. ^ "Space Station Assignments Out for NASA's SpaceX Crew-8 Mission - NASA".
  5. ^ a b c Phillips, Kerri (February 8, 2012). "Celebrating Black History Month: NASA's African-American Astronauts". AmericaSpace. Archived from the original on October 13, 2019. 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.
  6. ^ Oberg, James H. (2005-02-23). "The Unsung Astronaut". MSNBC. Archived from the original on 2014-11-11. Retrieved 2011-01-27.
  7. ^ Hoffman, Sarah (March 7, 2019). "A Space Pioneer Charts A Course For Future Astronauts". CrossCut, KCTS9. Retrieved January 28, 2023. 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.
  8. ^ Soldiers - Volume 47 - Page 20. Department of the Army. 1992.
  9. ^ "EXPERIMENT REPORT, UNITED STATES ARMY SPACE EXPERIMENT 601, Terra Scout" (PDF). Defense Technical Information Center. 1992-07-29. Archived (PDF) from the original on June 10, 2020. Retrieved 2020-06-10.
  10. ^ We Could Not Fail: The First African Americans in the Space Program, Chapter 5, University of Texas Press, Austin, TX, 2015, pp. 86-104