A History of African-American astronauts who have traveled to space

Mae Jemison via NASA.gov


The adventure of space exploration has been a dream of many humans on Earth throughout the ages. From the extraordinary accomplishments of the Space Race to the modern flights to the International Space Station, many astronauts have ventured out into space and have included diverse groups of individuals including women and people of color. There have been many African-Amerian astronauts that have ventured into space over the years and this project shines a spotlight on those individuals. Here is a history of African-American astronauts that have traveled to space.


For my timeline, I used Timeline JS which is an open-source tool from KnightLab that allows users to create interactive timelines (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1


In order to create my timeline visualization, I first did a Google search on African-American astronauts and those that have gone to space. I created a copy of the formatted Google Sheet then updated the Year, Headline, and Media columns with my research information (Fig. 2). For my media images, I searched Google for “Free to share and use” images under the License tab and pasted these images into my spreadsheet.

Fig. 2

After I finished my spreadsheet, I published it to the web and copied and pasted the URL from my web browser into the timeline generation field on the Timeline JS website (Fig. 3)

Fig. 3



From my research and my overall timeline, I discovered many interesting facts that I did not know before. I saw that there were a total of fourteen African-American astronauts who successfully traveled into space with the first being Guion Bluford in 1983. I saw that from 1983 to 1986 that each space shuttle that lifted off into space had at least one African-American astronaut aboard. However, I also saw that since 2009, there have not been any new African-American astronauts that have undertaken the journey into space. 


Overall, Timeline JS proved to be a simple and effective tool for presenting information in an interactive and insightful way. A user would be able to click from tab to tab to see each specific astronaut’s information. However, I did find that there were constraints with the media images in Timeline JS as I was not able to add images of the spaceflights themselves into each astronaut’s text field. 

I think there are several additions and improvements that I would like to do with this project in the future such as including photos of the astronauts in space and also a direct quote from their experience in space. I would also like to include video interviews of these astronauts or even available video clips of them in space as I think firsthand accounts would increase overall engagement with the timeline.


  1. http://timeline.knightlab.com/
  2. https://www.nasa.gov/stem-ed-resources/African_American_Astronauts.html