Bernard A. Harris, Jr.
Bernard Anthony Harris, Jr. (born June 26, 1956 in Temple, Texas
Temple, Texas
Temple is a city in Bell County, Texas, United States. Located near the county seat of Belton, Temple lies in the region referred to as Central Texas. Located off Interstate 35, Temple is 65 miles north of Austin and 34 miles south of Waco. In the 2010 Census, Temple's population was 66,102, an...

) is a former NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

An astronaut or cosmonaut is a person trained by a human spaceflight program to command, pilot, or serve as a crew member of a spacecraft....

. On February 9, 1995, Harris became the first African American
African American
African Americans are citizens or residents of the United States who have at least partial ancestry from any of the native populations of Sub-Saharan Africa and are the direct descendants of enslaved Africans within the boundaries of the present United States...

 to perform an extra-vehicular activity
Extra-vehicular activity
Extra-vehicular activity is work done by an astronaut away from the Earth, and outside of a spacecraft. The term most commonly applies to an EVA made outside a craft orbiting Earth , but also applies to an EVA made on the surface of the Moon...

 (spacewalk), during the second of his two Space Shuttle
Space Shuttle program
NASA's Space Shuttle program, officially called Space Transportation System , was the United States government's manned launch vehicle program from 1981 to 2011...



Harris graduated from Sam Houston High School, also from San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio is the seventh-largest city in the United States of America and the second-largest city within the state of Texas, with a population of 1.33 million. Located in the American Southwest and the south–central part of Texas, the city serves as the seat of Bexar County. In 2011,...

, in 1974, where he was actively involved in science fairs, book clubs and other school activities. He received a B.S.
Bachelor of Science
A Bachelor of Science is an undergraduate academic degree awarded for completed courses that generally last three to five years .-Australia:In Australia, the BSc is a 3 year degree, offered from 1st year on...

 degree in biology from University of Houston
University of Houston
The University of Houston is a state research university, and is the flagship institution of the University of Houston System. Founded in 1927, it is Texas's third-largest university with nearly 40,000 students. Its campus spans 667 acres in southeast Houston, and was known as University of...

 in 1978. He earned his MD
Doctor of Medicine
Doctor of Medicine is a doctoral degree for physicians. The degree is granted by medical schools...

 degree from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
The Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center offers programs in Allied Health Sciences, Biomedical Sciences, Medicine, Nursing, and Pharmacy. TTUHSC's main campus is in Lubbock, but campuses are also located in Abilene, Amarillo, Dallas, El Paso and the Permian Basin...

 School of Medicine in 1982. Harris completed a residency in internal medicine at the Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit medical practice and medical research group specializing in treating difficult patients . Patients are referred to Mayo Clinic from across the U.S. and the world, and it is known for innovative and effective treatments. Mayo Clinic is known for being at the top of...

 in 1985. Harris is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi
Kappa Alpha Psi
Kappa Alpha Psi is a collegiate Greek-letter fraternity with a predominantly African American membership. Since the fraternity's founding on January 5, 1911 at Indiana University Bloomington, the fraternity has never limited membership based on color, creed or national origin...


Harris completed a National Research Council
United States National Research Council
The National Research Council of the USA is the working arm of the United States National Academies, carrying out most of the studies done in their names.The National Academies include:* National Academy of Sciences...

 Fellowship at NASA's Ame Research Center in 1987. While at Ame, he conducted research in musculature physiology
Physiology is the science of the function of living systems. This includes how organisms, organ systems, organs, cells, and bio-molecules carry out the chemical or physical functions that exist in a living system. The highest honor awarded in physiology is the Nobel Prize in Physiology or...

 and disuse.

He also trained as a flight surgeon
Flight surgeon
A flight surgeon is a military medical officer assigned to duties in the clinical field variously known as aviation medicine, aerospace medicine, or flight medicine...

 at the Aerospace School of Medicine at Brooks Air Force Base in San Antonio in 1988. Dr. Harris received a master's degree
Master's degree
A master's is an academic degree granted to individuals who have undergone study demonstrating a mastery or high-order overview of a specific field of study or area of professional practice...

 in biomedical science from The University of Texas Medical Branch in 1996. Harris is also a licensed private pilot and certified scuba driver.

After completing his fellowship at NASA Ame's, he joined NASA's Johnson Space Center as a clinical scientist
Clinical scientist
This term is frequently used to denote :* A biomedical scientist or* A clinical laboratory scientist- See also :* Clinical pathologist* Clinical biologist* Medical laboratory...

 and flight surgeon, where he conducted clinical investigations of space adaptation and developed countermeasures for extended duration space flight.

He was the first African American man to go in space as one of NASA's research teams and he was involved in the construction of the space rovers.

He now has a school dedicated to him. The school's name is Dr. Bernard A. Harris Middle School.

Organizations and honors

Harris is a member of many professional, academic and service organizations, including the American College of Physicians
American College of Physicians
The American College of Physicians is a national organization of doctors of internal medicine —physicians who specialize in the prevention, detection, and treatment of illnesses in adults. With 130,000 members, ACP is the largest medical-specialty organization and second-largest physician group in...

, Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi
Phi Kappa Phi
The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi is an honor society established 1897 to recognize and encourage superior scholarship without restriction as to area of study and to promote the "unity and democracy of education"...

, and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity
Kappa Alpha Psi
Kappa Alpha Psi is a collegiate Greek-letter fraternity with a predominantly African American membership. Since the fraternity's founding on January 5, 1911 at Indiana University Bloomington, the fraternity has never limited membership based on color, creed or national origin...

. He is a board member of the Boys and Girls Club of Houston, National Math and Science Initiative
National Math and Science Initiative
The National Math and Science Initiative was launched in 2007 by leaders in business, education, and science to reverse the recent decline in U.S. students’ math and science educational achievement. NMSI’s mission is to bring best practices in math and science education to the 50 million students...

, Medical Informatics, Technology and Applications Center, Houston Technology Center
Houston Technology Center
The Houston Technology Center is a Technology Accelerator and Incubator located in the Heart of midtown Houston. The HTC creates economic wealth in the region by supporting technology businesses in the sectors of Energy, Information Technology , Life Sciences, and NASA based space technologies...

, and the National Space Biomedical Research Institute, Board of Scientific Counselors. He has been recognized several times by NASA and other organizations for his professional and academic achievements. In 1996 he received an honorary doctorate from the Morehouse College
Morehouse College
Morehouse College is a private, all-male, liberal arts, historically black college located in Atlanta, Georgia. Along with Hampden-Sydney College and Wabash College, Morehouse is one of three remaining traditional men's colleges in the United States....

 School of Medicine. He later received honorary doctorates from Stonybrook University, New Jersey Institute of Technology
New Jersey Institute of Technology
New Jersey Institute of Technology is a public research university in Newark, New Jersey. It is often also referred to as Newark College of Engineering ....

, and the University of Houston
University of Houston
The University of Houston is a state research university, and is the flagship institution of the University of Houston System. Founded in 1927, it is Texas's third-largest university with nearly 40,000 students. Its campus spans 667 acres in southeast Houston, and was known as University of...

. He has also received a NASA Space flight medal, a NASA Award of Merit, a fellow of the American College of Physicians and the 2000 Horatio Alger Award.

In 2005, the North East Independent School District in San Antonio, Texas named a middle school under construction after Harris. The Bernard Harris Middle School opened August 14, 2006, to have a capacity of 1500 students.

Astronaut experience

Harris first became interested in being an astronaut watching the Apollo 11
Apollo 11
In early 1969, Bill Anders accepted a job with the National Space Council effective in August 1969 and announced his retirement as an astronaut. At that point Ken Mattingly was moved from the support crew into parallel training with Anders as backup Command Module Pilot in case Apollo 11 was...

 mission on TV in 1969.
Selected by NASA in January 1990, Harris became an astronaut in July 1991, and qualified for assignment as a mission specialist
Mission Specialist
A Mission Specialist is a position held by certain NASA astronauts during Space Shuttle missions. A Mission Specialist is assigned to a limited field of the mission, such as for medical experiments or technical quests....

 on future Space Shuttle
Space Shuttle
The Space Shuttle was a manned orbital rocket and spacecraft system operated by NASA on 135 missions from 1981 to 2011. The system combined rocket launch, orbital spacecraft, and re-entry spaceplane with modular add-ons...

 flight crews. He served as the crew representative for Shuttle Software in the Astronaut Office Operations Development Branch. Harris was assigned as a mission specialist on STS-55
-Backup crew:-Mission parameters:*Mass:**Orbiter landing with payload: **Payload: *Perigee: *Apogee: *Inclination: 28.5°*Period: 90.7 min-Mission highlights:...

, Spacelab
Spacelab was a reusable laboratory used on certain spaceflights flown by the Space Shuttle. The laboratory consisted of multiple components, including a pressurized module, an unpressurized carrier and other related hardware housed in the Shuttle's cargo bay...

 D-2, in August 1991. He flew on board Columbia
Space Shuttle Columbia
Space Shuttle Columbia was the first spaceworthy Space Shuttle in NASA's orbital fleet. First launched on the STS-1 mission, the first of the Space Shuttle program, it completed 27 missions before being destroyed during re-entry on February 1, 2003 near the end of its 28th, STS-107. All seven crew...

 for ten days, (26 April 1993 – 6 May 1993); on the mission the Shuttle reached one year of accumulated flight time. Harris was part of the payload crew of Spacelab D-2, conducting a variety of research in physical and life sciences. During this flight, Harris logged over 239 hours and 4,164,183 miles in space.

His second mission was as the Payload Commander on STS-63 (2 February 1995 –11 February 1995), the first flight of the new joint Russian-American Space Program. Mission highlights included the first rendezvous (but not docking) with the Russian space station Mir
Mir was a space station operated in low Earth orbit from 1986 to 2001, at first by the Soviet Union and then by Russia. Assembled in orbit from 1986 to 1996, Mir was the first modular space station and had a greater mass than that of any previous spacecraft, holding the record for the...

 and retrieval of Spartan 204 satellite. During the flight, Harris became the first African-American to walk in space, while fellow astronaut Michael Foale
Michael Foale
Colin Michael Foale, CBE, PhD is a British-American astrophysicist with dual citizenship and a NASA astronaut. He is a veteran of six space shuttle missions and extended stays on both Mir and the International Space Station...

 became the first British-born spacewalker. (It was also on this flight that Eileen Collins
Eileen Collins
Eileen Marie Collins is a retired American astronaut and a retired U.S. Air Force Colonel. A former military instructor and test pilot, Collins was the first female pilot and first female commander of a Space Shuttle. She was awarded several medals for her work. Col. Collins has logged 38 days 8...

 became the first female Shuttle pilot.) On this mission, Harris logged 198 hours, 29 minutes in space, completed 129 orbits, and traveled over 2.9 million miles.


Harris left NASA in April 1996, but has continued research. He served as Vice President of SPACEHAB, Inc., and innovative space commercialization company, where he directed the company's space science business. He also served as Vice President of Business Development for Space Media, Inc., an Informatics company, establishing an e-commerce initiative that is now part of the United Nations' education program.

In the late 1990s, Harris served as a member of the Board of Regents of the Texas Tech University System.

In 1998, he founded The Harris Foundation, a Houston, Texas-based non-profit organization, whose stated mission is "to invest in community-based initiatives to support education, health and wealth. THF supports programs that empower individuals, in particular minorities and other economically and/or socially disadvantaged, to recognize their potential and pursue their dreams."

In 2008, he appeared in Microsoft
Microsoft Corporation is an American public multinational corporation headquartered in Redmond, Washington, USA that develops, manufactures, licenses, and supports a wide range of products and services predominantly related to computing through its various product divisions...

's "I'm a P.C." ad campaign. Harris also gave a keynote speech at the Exxon Mobil Texas State Science and Engineering Fair.

In 2009, he was elected Vice President of the American Telemedicine Association.

In 2010, he was part of the Dream Tour where he travelled to over 30 schools around the country.

External links

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