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The first African-American to walk in space was a UH(University of Houston) alum, Bernard Harris.

The first African-American to walk in space was a UH(University of Houston) alum, Bernard Harris.

Bernard Anthony Harris Jr. is a former NASA astronaut. On February 9, 1995, Harris became the first African American to perform an extra-vehicular activity (spacewalk), during the second of his two Space Shuttle flights.

Harris graduated from Sam Houston High School in San Antonio, Texas, in 1974, where he was actively involved in science fairs, book clubs and other school activities. He received a B.S. degree in biology from University of Houston in 1978. He earned his MD degree from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Medicine in 1982. Harris completed a residency in internal medicine at the Mayo Clinic in 1985. Harris is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity.

Harris first became interested in being an astronaut watching the Apollo 11 mission on TV in 1969. Selected by NASA in January 1990, Harris became an astronaut in July 1991, and qualified for assignment as a mission specialist on future Space Shuttle flight crews. He served as the crew representative for Shuttle Software in the Astronaut Office Operations Development Branch. Harris was assigned as a mission specialist on STS-55, Spacelab D-2, in August 1991. He flew on board Columbia for ten days, (26 April 1993 – 6 May 1993); on the mission the Shuttle reached one year of accumulated flight time. Harris was part of the payload crew of Spacelab D-2, conducting a variety of research in physical and life sciences. During this flight, Harris logged over 239 hours and 4,164,183 miles in space.

His second mission was as the Payload Commander on STS-63 ( February 2, 1995 – February 11, 1995), the first flight of the new joint Russian-American Space Program. Mission highlights included the first rendezvous (but not docking) with the Russian space station Mir and retrieval of Spartan 204 satellite. During the flight, Harris became the first African-American to walk in space, while fellow astronaut Michael Foale became the first British-born spacewalker.(It was also on this flight that Eileen Collins became the first female Shuttle pilot.) On this mission, Harris logged 198 hours, 29 minutes in space, completed 129 orbits, and traveled over 2.9 million miles.


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