Maj. Robert H. Lawrence, Jr.

Maj. Robert H. Lawrence, Jr. was the first Black astronaut.
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Degree(s): Chemistry, Physical Chemistry

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Undergraduate Institution: Bradley University

Graduate Institution:  The Ohio State University

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Photo Credit: NASA

Maj. Robert H. Lawrence, Jr. was the first Black astronaut. A senior US Air Force (USAF) he accumulated over 2,500 flight hours before being selected as part of the Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL), a joint project of the USAF and the National Reconnaissance Office to obtain high-resolution images of Cold War adversaries of the US. Six months after being selected, Maj. Lawrence was killed in a training accident. Former NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden noted that Maj. Lawrence “was involved in the development of the maneuver that would become a critical part of space shuttle landing techniques called ‘flare.’”

 

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