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Robert Henry Lawrence, Jr. Biography

1st African-American Astronaut

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Robert Henry Lawrence, Jr. - 1st African-American Astronaut

Robert Henry Lawrence, Jr. - 1st African-American Astronaut

NASA
In June l967, Robert Henry Lawrence, Jr. was named the first African-American astronaut, though he never made it into space. Several months later, on December 8, Lawrence died when his F-104 Starfighter jet, in which he was a co-pilot/passenger during a training flight, crashed at Edwards Air Force Base, California.

Robert Henry Lawrence, Jr. was born October 2, 1935, in Chicago. He received an undergraduate degree in chemistry from Bradley University in 1956, and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant into the US Air Force upon graduation at age 20. Lawrence later earned a Ph.D. in physical chemistry in 1965 from Ohio State University.

Robert Henry Lawrence, Jr. distinguished himself as an exceptional Air Force test pilot and was among the first to be named to the USAF Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL) program, which was a precursor to today's successful NASA space shuttle program.

In 1997, thirty years after his tragic death, the Chicago native son's name was the 17th added to The Astronauts Memorial Foundation Space Mirror. The mirror was dedicated in 1991 to honor all US astronauts who have lost their lives on space missions or in training for missions.

Astronaut/Cosmonaut Memorial

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