Bluford entered the Astronaut Training Program, attaining the status of astronaut in 1979. He became the first African-American in space during his first mission aboard the Challenger in 1983, and he went on to serve another mission on the Challenger and two Discovery missions. Returning to school again, Bluford received his masters in business administration from the University of Houston in 1987.
Although he retired from NASA and the Air Force in 1993, Bluford remained active in aeronautics by becoming vice president of the Science and Engineering Group, Aerospace Sector of the Federal Data Corporation in Maryland. Bluford was also inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame in 1997.