Nasa daily picture for February 22: Robert Lawrence: America's First African-American Astronaut

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Robert Lawrence

The Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL) was a joint project of the US Air Force (USAF) and the National Reconnaissance Office to obtain high-resolution photographic imagery of America’s Cold War adversaries. Authorized in August 1965, the MOL Program envisioned a series of mini-space stations in low polar Earth orbit, occupied by 2-man crews for 30 days at a time, launching and returning to Earth aboard modified Gemini capsules.

The USAF selected Maj. Robert H. Lawrence, Jr., on June 30, 1967, as a member of the third group of aerospace research pilots for the MOL Program, making him the first African-American to be selected as an astronaut by any national space program.  Of the significance of his selection Lawrence said with his typical modesty, “This is nothing dramatic.  It’s just a normal progression.  I’ve been very fortunate.”

Learn about the life and career of Maj. Lawrence.

Image Credit: U.S. Air Force



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