On February 9, 1995, Dr. Bernard Harris became the first African American to perform a spacewalk during the second of his two Space Shuttle flights. The Temple, Tx. native was the first black man to go into space as one of NASA’s research teams and he was involved in the construction of the space rovers.
In 1987, Dr. Harris completed a National Research Council Fellowship at the Ames Research Center. A year later, Dr. Harris trained as a flight surgeon at the Aerospace School of Medicine at Brooks Air Force Base in San Antonio. As a flight surgeon at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, Harris conducted clinical investigations of space adaptation and developed countermeasures for extended duration space flight.
Elected by NASA in January 1990, Dr. Harris became an astronaut in July 1991 and qualified for assignment as a mission specialist on future Space Shuttle flight crews. During his second mission as Payload Commander on STS-63, the first flight of the new joint Russian-American Space Program, Dr. Harris would make his mark in history. On this mission, Dr. Harris logged 198 hours, 29 minutes in space, completed 129 orbits, and traveled over 2.9 million miles.
Dr. Harris has been recognized by many organizations and colleges, including Morehouse College in Atlanta, Ga., which rewarded him an honorary Doctorate. He has also received the NASA Space flight medal, a NASA Award of Merit, a fellow of the American College of Physicians and the 2000 Horatio Alger Award.
The black space pioneer was also honored by a school district in San Antonio with the Bernard A. Harris Middle School in San Antonio, Tx.