February 28th, 2023: As Black History Month comes to a close, Odyssey engineers recognize and honor the many contributions made by Black NASA members. Robert H. Lawrence was the first Black astronaut chosen for a space program. Though he was first chosen, he died unexpectedly in an aircraft accident before given the chance to fly in space. When Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez flew aboard the Soviet Salyut-6 space station for 8 days in 1980, he became the first person of African heritage to fly in space. Katherine Johnson, the main inspiration for the novel and movie Hidden Figures, derived calculations that were crucial to NASA missions sending astronauts into orbit and to the moon. Jumping forward a few decades, Black astronauts Victor Glover and Jessica Watkins have each spent nearly half a year in space while serving on the Crew Dragon 1 and Crew Dragon 4 missions, respectively. We honor the legacies and contributions to human spaceflight they and countless others have made.
Image credit: NASA