Orlando International Airport Salutes African-American Astronauts for Black History Month

Press Release
Guy Bluford and Jessica Watkins
Guion (Guy) Bluford, the first African American in space, and Jessica Watkins, who holds the record as the African-American woman with the most time in space, are featured in a special exhibit at Orlando International.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Central Floridians hold great pride for the neighboring Space Coast industry, which is expected to expand with almost 100 launches in 2024, topping the record-breaking 72 launches in 2023. The stories and figures behind the exciting industry are worth sharing with Central Floridians and visitors as well.

In recognition of space travel and Black History Month, Orlando International Airport is recognizing the contributions of African-American astronauts in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) program. The special exhibit, on Level 3 of the Main Terminal, near the security checkpoint for Gates 70-129, salutes 18 astronauts.

The featured astronauts come from cities around the country, propelled into the space industry by education and training as military pilots, engineers, scientists, and physicians. They have made history with their accomplishments and contributions, and they serve as inspiration for future generations. Spanning decades of historical milestones, the exhibit includes pioneers such as Guion S. Bluford Jr., the first African American to travel into space in 1983 aboard the Challenger, and relative newcomers like Jessica Watkins, who now holds the record as the African-American woman with the most time in space, having spent 170 days on the International Space Station in 2022.

“The Greater Orlando Aviation Authority salutes the achievements of these astronauts and countless other African Americans in the aerospace industry who make spaceflights possible,” said Kevin J. Thibault, CEO of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority. “We thank them for their extraordinary dreams and dedication.”

The exhibit will be on display through March 7, 2024.

The Greater Orlando Aviation Authority is proud to operate Orlando International Airport (MCO) and Orlando Executive Airport (ORL), two of Florida’s premier air travel gateways. MCO is a world-class global connector, serving more than 50 million annual passengers in its Main Terminal and Terminal C. Connected to an Intermodal Terminal Facility, Terminal C is an inventive structure that elevates the customer experience with 100% automated screening lanes at TSA checkpoints. ORL is conveniently located just miles from downtown Orlando and provides vital general aviation access to the heart of the region.