Oxford AASC: Photo Essay

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PHOTO ESSAY

African Americans in the Space Program

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Frederick D. Gregory

Frederick D. Gregory's official NASA portrait.

Frederick Drew Gregory, from the same class as Bluford, became the second African American to travel in space. Four years later, in 1989, he made his own place in history by becoming the first-ever African American space commander. Looking down at the Earth from space left a profound mark on Gregory, who remarked, "From space, you can't see discernible borders and you begin to question why people don't like each other, because it looked like just one big neighborhood down there. The longer I was there, the greater my [ideas about] 'a citizen of' changed." Gregory went on several more missions, until 1991, when he was space commander of the Atlantis. On that trip, his final voyage, he was able to avert disaster by successfully avoiding collision with a Soviet spacecraft after a navigation device failed. Back on Earth, Gregory received several promotions at NASA. In 2001, he became Associate Administrator for the Office of Space Flight, making him responsible for, among other things, management of the International Space Station and the space shuttle program.

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