By: Andrick Martinez

Robert H. Lawrence, America’s first black astronaut, had already traveled far by the time he was selected as a military astronaut in 1967. His death later that year in a tragic accident not only cut short a promising career, it led full recognition of his accomplishments and hard-won status to be obscured for decades. Only after his supporters traveled their own difficult journey was Lawrence accorded his proper place in space history.

Lawrence was a 31-year-old Air Force officer when he was selected in 1967 to join a small team of military officers training for a planned small space station. The Pentagon's "Manned Orbiting Laboratory," or mol, was intended to explore the value of military space missions for astronauts. Two man crews would be launched aboard advanced Gemini capsules and spend a month or more in orbit, practicing visual reconnaissance and communications intercepts and other national security tasks.

Instead, Lawrence's death in a December 8, 1967 jet crash made him the only member of the mol team to lose his life in the line of duty on that program. The crash itself soon became entwined with garbled stories and widespread misunderstanding. Sometimes called a training flight or a space shuttle landing test!

The true nature of the flight  and the enormity of the loss  remained elusive for decades, and this contributed to Lawrence’s remaining the "unsung astronaut."he was born in october 2 , 1935 At the age of 21 he had become an Air Force pilot after completing flight training at Malden Air Force Base. At the age of 36 he married his wife and became father in 1994 he made a coach pilot at age 56.he ride for 200 miles in the orbiter.

In June l967, Robert Henry Lawrence, Jr. was named the first African-American astronaut, though he never made it into space. Several months later, on December 8, Lawrence died when his F-104 star fighter jet, in which he was a co-pilot/passenger during a training flight, crashed at Edwards Air Force Base, California. In 1997 thirty years after his tragic death.

Born in Chicago, Illinois on October 2, 1935, Robert Henry Lawrence, Jr. graduated from Englewood High School in Chicago in the top 10 percent of his class. In 1956 he graduated from Bradley University with a B.A. in Chemistry. While in college he enlisted in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps rotc and distinguished himself, receiving the commission of Second Lieutenant in the Air Force Reserve Program.

On December 8,1997 Robert Henry Lawrence, Jr.’s name was inscribed on the Space Mirror Memorial at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Memorial was dedicated in 1991 to honor of all astronauts who have lost their lives on space missions or training for missions.

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web site biography, for kids. Invention of Robert H. Lawrence

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