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A space inspiration

His lifelong achievements in the aerospace engineering field are seen as inspirational to people of all ages. In 1983, Guion Bluford became the first black man in space. Bluford spoke in the Special Events Center on Thursday about his experiences.

The lecture, “Inspiration from Space,” was part of Black Family Technology Awareness Week and was meant to encourage more minorities to continue their studies in engineering.

“Look into the future, and recognize that the future is bright,” said Bluford.Bluford stands as a role model for those interested in taking part in the exploration of space in the future. For 13 years, he served as a fighter pilot. His educational background includes a bachelor’s of science, master’s and doctor of philosophy in aerospace engineering. He has also received 13 honorary doctorate degrees.

Bluford briefly discussed the future in the aerospace program as a worldwide effort and said the nation must continue research despite the Columbia disaster. All the nations’ scientists in the world are working together to keep expanding and exploring our knowledge of space.

“This is a combined world effort. All (nations) are involved in building (the space station)” Bluford said.

Currently, there are three astronauts in the International Space Station. In the future, there is going to be a crew of astronauts living in the International Space Station.

“It requires a great deal of effort. You can’t let things go. You have to keep control of everything,” Bluford said. “We are committed to fixing the problem of Columbia and moving on.”

Bluford said he was an average student through most of his education. He looked to his parents for guidance and was taught to aim high. His father, who was a mechanical engineer, served as a mentor for Bluford.

“I never dreamed I would be a fighter pilot,” Bluford said. “I never dreamed I would be an astronaut.”

Bluford has made four space missions and flew on the Challenger and Discovery. Bluford said that during one of his missions the crew performed 76 different experiments within 24 hours. The crew took shifts of 12 hours between different teams. They studied various space materials, set up satellites, examined fruit flies and plant life.

During a typical trip, Bluford said crew members took about 3,000 to 4,000 pictures. In a presentation, Bluford showed pictures of a volcano erupting in Japan, a hurricane in the South Pacific and the Grand Canyon. From the space shuttle, one can see 1,000 miles in every direction Bluford said.

“I did everything I wanted to do but walk in space,” he said.