Legendary astronaut Bernard Harris has logged close to 200 hours in space and more than 2.9 million miles. That’s 12 times the distance to the moon and back. With more than 129 planetal orbits and the distinction of being the first African-American to walk in space under his belt, Harris is committed to getting disadvantaged kids to study science and reach for stars.
Educated in medicine, Bernard Harris spent a decade conducting NASA research about how bones, muscles and ligaments are affected by unusual settings, like zero gravity environments. Harris is no stranger to working in such conditions, as the astronaut is also a licensed pilot and certified scuba diver.
Bernard Harris is making history … grooming the next generation of astronauts. Through The Bernard Harris Foundation, a Houston-based non-profit, the former astronaut helps bring top-tier learning resources to disadvantaged kids through annual science summer camps and educational scholarships. Last year, half the participants in the camp came from houses that fall below the poverty line.
What’s next for Bernard?
Harris will continue his DREAM tour in 2011, a motivational series that encourages underprivileged students to pursue STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) careers. The Harris Foundation is also teaming up with clothing designer Geoffrey Beene and his Give Back organization, which recruits leading scientific figures as well as movers and shakers in the music industry to support research funding and the encouragement of prospective science students.
In his own words …
“We must not lose the will to pursue daring new goals, encourage our students to dream and equip them with the educational tools to pursue their aspirations,” wrote Harris in a 2010 Houston Chronicle article. “Our future depends on it.”
A little-known fact …
In 1994, the Texas native became the 89th person and first African-American to “space walk,” or perform work in space outside of the shuttle.
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