In the 20-some years that individuals have been dwelling aboard the International Space Station, its prolonged crew has by no means included a Black astronaut. Victor J. Glover, a Navy commander and check pilot who joined the astronaut corps in 2013, would be the first.
Since the International Space Station’s inception it has seen quite a few different milestones: internet hosting the world’s first area vacationer, having its first feminine commander and enduring the transition from U.S. astronauts being transported by way of NASA’s area shuttle program to utilizing SpaceX’s spacecraft.
But Mr. Glover’s achievement is notable for NASA, which has labored to highlight the “hidden figures” in its historical past, however has up to now despatched solely 14 Black Americans to area out of a complete of greater than 300 NASA astronauts.
He won’t be the primary Black astronaut aboard the station. But those that preceded him from NASA had been members of area shuttle crews throughout the station’s development and solely made transient stays on the outpost.
Mr. Glover and three different astronauts will launch on Sunday aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule named Resilience and are anticipated to spend about six months aboard the station.
Next yr, he could possibly be adopted by Jeanette Epps, who can be the primary Black girl to to be a part of an I.S.S. crew. She will fly aboard the primary operational crewed journey of Boeing’s Starliner capsule. (In 2018, she was pulled from a flight to the station and changed with Serena Auñón-Chancellor.)
NASA first concerned Black Americans within the astronaut program within the 1960s when Ed Dwight, an Air Force check pilot, grew to become an astronaut candidate. But he by no means went to area. Guion S. Bluford Jr. grew to become the primary Black American in area in 1983 aboard the area shuttle Challenger; Mae Jemison was the primary Black girl in 1992.
Sunday’s launch follows a summer season of racial and social unrest within the aftermath of the demise of George Floyd, a Black man, by the hands of the Minneapolis police. When requested throughout a information convention on Monday about his ideas on making historical past, Mr. Glover modestly nodded to the importance.
“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 stated. “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.”
During the summer season, Mr. Glover responded to a query on social media about astronauts sticking strictly to area.
“Actually no,” he stated on Twitter. “Remember who is doing space. People are. As we address extreme weather and pandemic disease, we will understand and overcome racism and bigotry so we can safely and together do space. Thanks for asking.”
He additionally stated this week in an interview with The Christian Chronicle, a publication of the Churches of Christ, that the milestone was “bittersweet.”
“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,” Mr. Glover stated. “I wish it would have already been done, but I try not to draw too much attention to it.”
Charles F. Bolden Jr., who served as NASA administrator below President Barack Obama, stated that whereas Mr. Glover was making historical past, he shouldn’t really feel burdened.
“Several of us have had an opportunity to try to talk with him regularly and try to help put him at ease and help him understand he’s not carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders,” stated Mr. Bolden, who can be Black and spent virtually 700 hours in area as a NASA astronaut. “He shouldn’t feel unusual responsibility because he’s Black. He should just go and be another crew member and have a good time.”
Mr. Glover is married to Dionna Odom, they usually have 4 youngsters.
Originally from Pomona, Calif., Mr. Glover graduated with a bachelor’s diploma typically engineering from California Polytechnic State University in 1999. Over the course of 2007 to 2010, he earned three grasp’s levels: in flight check engineering, programs engineering and army operational artwork and science.
Mr. Glover is commonly referred to by his counterparts as Ike, a nod to a name signal a former commanding officer gave him that stands for “I know everything.”