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Eileen Hawley February 2, 1995

Release 95-007

Harris Becomes First African-American to Walk in Space

Bernard A. Harris, Jr. will make history as he becomes the first African-American astronaut to walk in space.

Harris and crewmate Michael Foale will leave the space shuttle Discovery's airlock on the seventh day of the STS-63 mission to conduct a planned five-hour spacewalk. The two astronauts will practice moving a large object in space and also will check out modifications designed to improve the thermal protection of their extravehicular activity suits.

Harris and Foale will maneuver the 2,661 pound Spartan satellite demonstrating new techniques for moving large objects in space without using the shuttle's remote manipulator system -- or robot arm. The techniques may be used in assembling and maintaining the planned International Space Station.

To test new thermal protection characteristics of the spacesuit's arms and gloves, Harris and Foale will work in Discovery's payload bay, shadowed from the warmth of the sun. The two astronauts will report back on their thermal comfort levels, particularly their hands.

STS-63 marks Harris' second journey into space, having flown previously on STS-55 in 1993. He was selected as an astronaut in 1990 after completing a Research Council Fellowship at NASA's Ames Research Center, Calif. Harris graduated from Sam Houston High School, San Antonio, TX in 1974; received a bachelor of science degree in biology from the University of Houston in 1978; and a doctorate in medicine from Texas Tech University School of Medicine in 1982. Harris also is an associate professor in internal medicine at the University of Texas Medical Branch; an assistant professor at the Baylor College of Medicine; a clinical professor at the University of Texas School of Medicine; and an adjunct professor at the University of Texas School of Public Health.

 

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