NASA and SpaceX are sending an African-American astronaut on an extended trip for the first time into space. Victor J. Glover, who joined the astronaut corps in 2013 when he was still serving as a legislative fellow in the United States Senate, will now be the first Black crew member to spend an extended amount of time at the space station.
According to NY Times, Glover, 44, a Navy Commander, is making this unprecedented voyage with three other crew members; two Americans, crew commander Mike Hopkins, 51, Shannon Walker, 55 and one Japanese, Soichi Noguchi, 55.
The crew launched on Sunday on a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule named Resilience and will spend about six months aboard the station. The four will stay in orbit until spring, till another SpaceX Dragon capsule brings their replacements.
The first African American to travel into space was Guion Bluford in 1983 and since then there have been many African Americans in space, some of whom helped build the International Space Station but none of them have been on prolonged missions or served as expedition members like Glover.
Out of 300 astronauts, NASA has only sent 14 Black Americans and Glover’s achievement is notable for NASA.
Black people in America have had waves of protests following the death of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor amid talks of racial injustice and police brutality. Glover is delighted to make history on the Dragon capsule, but he is not oblivious to the recent happenings including the pandemic.
“It is something to be celebrated once we accomplish it, and I am honored to be in this position and to be a part of this great and experienced crew,” he said.
“And I look forward to getting up there and doing my best to make sure, you know, we are worthy of all the work that’s been put into setting us up for this mission. You know, unlike the election — that is in the past or receding in the past — this mission is still ahead of me. So, let’s get there, and I’ll talk to you after I get on board.”
Glover is a family man with four children married to Dionna Odom. The Pomona, California native got his bachelor’s in general engineering from California Polytechnic State University in 1999. Between 2007 and 2010, Glover earned three master’s degrees in flight test engineering, systems engineering and military operational art and science.
The former Navy Commander accumulated 3,000 flight hours in more than 40 aircraft, over 400 carrier arrested landings and 24 combat missions. His colleagues nicknamed him “Ike”, which means “I Know Everything.” His former commanding officer gave him that name for his stellar work ethics.
With this NASA mission, he told The Christian Chronicle, a publication of the Churches of Christ, that he wished Blacks had achieved this feat long ago and hopes he would not be the last.
“I’ve had some amazing colleagues before me that really could have done it, and there are some amazing folks that will go behind me,” Glover said. “I wish it would have already been done, but I try not to draw too much attention to it.”