Skip to main content
Year
1983
Month Day
August 30

Guion S. Bluford becomes the first African American to travel to space

U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Guion S. Bluford becomes the first African American to travel into space when the space shuttle Challenger lifts off on its third mission. It was the first night launch of a space shuttle, and many people stayed up late to watch the spacecraft roar up from Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 2:32 a.m.

The Challenger spent six days in space, during which time Bluford and his four fellow crew members launched a communications satellite for the government of India, made contact with an errant communications satellite, conducted scientific experiments, and tested the shuttle’s robotic arm. Just before dawn on September 5, the shuttle landed at Edwards Air Force Base in California, bringing an end to the most flawless shuttle mission to that date.

Guion Stewart Bluford II was born in Philadelphia in 1942. From an early age, “Guy” was fascinated with flight and decided he wanted to design and build airplanes. In 1964, he graduated from Penn State with a degree in aerospace engineering. Deciding he’d need to know how to fly planes if he wanted to build them, he entered the U.S. Air Force and graduated with his pilot wings in 1965. He was assigned to a fighter squadron in Vietnam, where he flew 144 combat missions. After combat service, he became a flight instructor and in the 1970s went on to receive a master’s degree and doctorate in aerospace engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology.

In 1979, he was accepted into the U.S. astronaut program. He made his first flight in 1983 as a mission specialist on the eighth shuttle mission. He later flew three more shuttle missions, logging a total of 700 hours in orbit. After returning from NASA, he became vice president and general manager of an engineering company in Ohio.

READ MORE: Space Exploration: Timeline and Technologies 

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Christopher Cross has his first of two #1 hits with “Sailing”

Young American singer-songwriter Christopher Cross completes a meteoric rise from obscurity when his hit ballad “Sailing” reaches the top of the Billboard pop chart on August 30, 1980. A year later, MTV’s first minutes on air feature the music video for “Video Killed The Radio ...read more

Washington refuses British general's letter of reconciliation

On August 30, 1776, General George Washington gives the New York Convention three reasons for the American retreat from Long Island. That same day, he rejects British General William Howe’s second letter of reconciliation. With Howe and a superior British force having recently ...read more

Vladimir Lenin shot

After speaking at a factory in Moscow, Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin is shot twice by Fanya Kaplan, a member of the Social Revolutionary party. Lenin was seriously wounded but survived the attack. The assassination attempt set off a wave of reprisals by the Bolsheviks against the ...read more

Thurgood Marshall confirmed as Supreme Court justice

On August 30, 1967, Thurgood Marshall becomes the first African American to be confirmed as a Supreme Court justice. He would remain on the Supreme Court for 24 years before retiring for health reasons, leaving a legacy of upholding the rights of the individual as guaranteed by ...read more

Ho Chi Minh responds to Nixon letter

Ho Chi Minh’s reply to President Nixon’s letter of July 15 is received in Paris. Ho accused the United States of a “war of aggression” against the Vietnamese people, “violating our fundamental national rights” and warned that “the longer the war goes on, the more it accumulates ...read more

Hotline established between Washington and Moscow

On August 30, 1963, John F. Kennedy becomes the first U.S. president to have a direct phone line to the Kremlin in Moscow. The “hotline” was designed to facilitate communication between the president and Soviet premier. The establishment of the hotline to the Kremlin came in the ...read more

Movie tough guy Charles Bronson dies

On August 30, 2003, the actor Charles Bronson, best known for his tough-guy roles in such films as The Dirty Dozen and the Death Wish franchise, dies at the age of 81 in Los Angeles. Bronson was born Charles Buchinsky on November 3, 1921, in Ehrenfeld, Pennsylvania, to Lithuanian ...read more

A murdering couple is sentenced to death

Cynthia Coffman and James Marlow are sentenced to death in San Bernardino, California, for the 1986 murder of Corinna Novis. Coffman was the first woman to receive a death sentence in the state since capital punishment was reinstated in 1977. Coffman first met Marlow in May 1986, ...read more

California Senate passes Global Warming Solutions Act

On August 30, 2006, the California State Senate passes Assembly Bill (AB) 32—otherwise known as the Global Warming Solutions Act. The law made California the first state in America to place caps on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, including those found in automobile ...read more