Members of the Lucy Team wanted to honor pioneering African American, Hispanic, and Native American astronauts (and one cosmonaut) by proposing that 27 main belt asteroids be named after them. Learn more of the story here, and learn about the astronauts below.
Edward (Ed) Joseph Dwight Jr. (b. 1933) was the first African American
astronaut candidate. He served in the Air Force, working as test pilot
before serving in the Aerospace Research Pilot School. After leaving the Air
Force he went on to become an influential sculptor and author.
Robert H. Lawrence Jr. (1935-1967) was selected for the Manned Orbiting
Laboratory (MOL) program. He was the first African American to be selected as
an astronaut and was the only MOL astronaut with a doctorate. He perished in a
plane crash before he had the opportunity to go to space.
Guion Steward Bluford Jr. (b. 1942) was the first African American astronaut
in space. He was a part of four space shuttle missions between 1983 and 1992,
which included deploying satellites, testing robotic arms, and conducting research.
Bluford logged a total of 688 hours in space.
Frederick Drew Gregory (b. 1941) is a retired astronaut who was the pilot
on one space shuttle mission and commander on two other missions.
In 1989, he was the first African American to command a space flight. He also
served as deputy administrator of NASA.
Charles Frank Bolden Jr. (b. 1946) is a former astronaut who flew on four
space shuttle missions (two as the pilot and two as the commander).
From 2009-2017, he was NASA’s administrator.
Mae Carol Jemison (b. 1956) is a retired astronaut who flew on the
space shuttle in 1992. There she conducted scientific experiments.
She was the first African American woman to travel to space and the first
African American woman admitted into the astronaut training program.
Bernard Anthony Harris Jr. (b. 1956) is a former astronaut who flew on
two space shuttle missions. In 1993, he was a mission specialist who
carried out research as part of Spacelab D-2. As payload commander on the
space shuttle Discovery in 1995, he became the first African American
to conduct a spacewalk.
Winston Elliott Scott (b. 1950) is a former astronaut who flew two missions
to space. Scott completed three spacewalks to retrieve satellites and evaluate the
assembly of the ISS. He also performed experiments on the effects of zero gravity
on the human body.
Robert Lee Curbeam Jr. (b. 1962) is a retired astronaut and the first person to perform
four spacewalks on a single mission. While in space, Curbeam helped fix a solar panel
and install a new truss in the ISS. He spent more than 37 days in space and
45 hours on spacewalks.
Stephanie Diana Wilson (b. 1966) is the second African American woman to fly in space.
She has flown on three missions, and as of 2020, logged the most time in space of
any African American astronaut (42 days). She also served as the ground
commander for the first all-women spacewalk in 2019.
Joan Higginbotham (b. 1964) is an electrical engineer and former astronaut.
As an engineer at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, she participated in
53 space shuttle launches before becoming and astronaut and the third
African American woman to go to space.
Benjamin Alvin Drew (b. 1962) is an astronaut who flew two space shuttle
missions to the ISS as a mission specialist. He logged more than 25 days in space.
He also conducted two spacewalks.
As an astronaut, Leland Devon Melvin (b. 1964) helped build the ISS,
with flights aboard the space shuttle Atlantis in 2008 and 2009.
Melvin is also an engineer with experience using sensors to assess damage of
aerospace vehicles and was an NFL football player with the Detroit Lions.
Robert Lee Satcher Jr. (b. 1965) is an orthopedic surgeon, chemical engineer and
retired astronaut. He was the first orthopedic surgeon in space and participated in
two spacewalks as part of a space shuttle flight to the ISS in 2009.
Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez (b. 1942) was the first person of African ancestry and the
first Hispanic (Cuban) cosmonaut to travel into space with the crew of Soyuz 38 in September 1980.
He received the first Hero of the Republic of Cuba medal and many other honors.
Franklin R. Chang Díaz (b. 1950) was an astronaut for 25 years and flew
seven space shuttle missions from 1986 to 2002. He logged more than 1,600 hours
in space and helped to deploy the Galileo spacecraft to Jupiter.
He is the first Costa Rican astronaut and is also of Chinese descent.
Sidney M. Gutierrez (b. 1951) is a former astronaut. He was the pilot on the
space shuttle Columbia in 1991. That mission was the first Spacelab mission
dedicated to biological sciences. He was the commander of a space shuttle
Endeavour mission in 1994 that used radar to study the Earth.
Ellen Ochoa (b. 1958) is a former astronaut. In 1993, she was the first Hispanic
woman to go to space. She flew four space shuttle missions, logged nearly 1,000 hours
in space, and became director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
Michael Lopez-Alegria (b. 1958) is a retired astronaut who flew on four NASA missions:
three aboard the space shuttle, and one on the Soyuz spacecraft for a long-duration mission aboard the ISS.
He has performed 10 spacewalks during his 257 days in space.While in space,
he performed experiments on materials, biotechnology and combustion.
Carlos I. Noriega was born in 1959 in Peru and became an astronaut in 1996.
He was a mission specialist aboard the space shuttle Atlantis on NASA’s
sixth mission to dock with the Russian Mir Space Station, and aboard the space
shuttle Endeavour mission to deliver and install the first set of solar arrays to the ISS .
John D. Olivas (b. 1966) is a former astronaut. Olivas flew two space shuttle missions,
in 2007 and 2009, to assemble the ISS. He conducted five spacewalks during those two missions.
George D. Zamka (b. 1962) is a retired astronaut. Zamka piloted the space shuttle
Discovery in its October 2007 mission to the ISS. He was the commander of the space shuttle
Endeavour mission in February 2010, an ISS assembly mission.
Joseph Acabá (b. 1967) flew to the ISS in 2009, 2012 and 2018, aboard both the
space shuttle and the Soyuz spacecraft. On his first flight, he participated in
spacewalks to assemble the space station. As of July 2020, he has spent 306 days in space.
José M. Hernández (b. 1962) was born into a migrant farming family.
He became an astronaut and was a mission specialist on space shuttle Discovery’s mission
to the ISS in 2008. Prior to his time as an astronaut, Hernández helped to
develop the first full-field digital mammography imaging system.
Serena M. Auñón-Chancellor (b. 1976) is an engineer, physician, and astronaut.
She has collected meteorites in Antarctica, served as an aquanaut on an undersea
research station, and was a flight engineer on the ISS for six months in 2018.
Rodolfo Neri Vela (b. 1952) is the first Mexican person to travel to space.
In 1985, he was a payload specialist on the space shuttle Atlantis.
During the flight, he conducted experiments, including many on the subject of human physiology.
John Herrington (b. 1958) is a former astronaut and a member of the Chickasaw Nation.
Herrington was a mission specialist aboard space shuttle Endeavour for the 16th space shuttle
flight to the ISS, performing three spacewalks during the mission.