​November 22, 1989: Col. Frederick Gregory Makes NASA History

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Col. Frederick Gregory became the 1st African-American to command a space flight when STS-33 launched at night, from Kennedy Space Center, Florida at 7:23 pm EST.

STS-33 was a NASA Space Shuttle mission, during which Space Shuttle Discovery deployed a payload for the United States Department of Defense (DoD). STS-33 was the 32nd shuttle mission overall, the ninth flight of Discovery, and the fifth shuttle mission in support of the DoD. Due to the nature of the mission, specific details remain classified. Discovery lifted off from Pad A, Launch Complex 39 at Kennedy Space Center.

On board the Orbiter Discovery, Gregory’s crew included the pilot, John Blaha, and three mission specialists, Manley (Sonny) Carter, Story Musgrave, and Kathryn Thornton. After 79 orbits of the Earth, this five-day mission concluded on November 27, 1989, with a hard surface landing on Runway 04 at Edwards AFB, California. Mission duration was 120 hours, 7 minutes, 32 seconds.

Frederick Drew Gregory (Colonel, USAF, Ret.) is a former NASA astronaut and former NASA Deputy Administrator. He also served briefly as NASA Acting Administrator in early 2005, covering the period between the departure of Sean O’Keefe and the swearing in of Michael Griffin.

Col. Gregory is a member of Omega Psi Phi fraternity.

Read more about Col. Gregory’s honors & legacy at: Daily Black History Fact

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