How space rookie and Nasa astronaut Victor Glover rocketed into history books

Inside the crew suit-up room in the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Flori
Inside the crew suit-up room in the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, on Nov. 15, 2020, NASA astronaut Victor Glover, pilot, is shown in a SpaceX spacesuit in preparation for NASA SpaceX’s Crew-1 mission. Crew-1 is the first regular crew mission of a U.S. commercial spacecraft with astronauts to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience capsule will launch atop the company’s Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A to the space station for a six-month science mission.

First-time space flyer Victor Glover hitched a ride into the history books after becoming the first black crew member to set up camp on the International Space Station (ISS) for long-term stay.

The 44-year-old Nasa astronaut has begun a six-month stint on the orbiting space laboratory 250 miles above Earth.

Mr Glover travelled on a rocket and capsule system built by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s SpaceX, as part of the aerospace company’s first operational crewed flight into low-Earth orbit.

He blasted off into space on November 15 alongside Nasa’s Michael Hopkins and Shannon Walker, and Japan’s Soichi Noguchi.

Mr Glover is currently serving as pilot and second-in-command on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, named Resilience.

SpaceX-Crew Launch
From front left to right, Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, Mike Hopkins and Soichi Noguchi with, from back left, Kate Rubins, Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov (Nasa TV)

He will also take on the role of a flight engineer on the space station as part of the Expedition 64 crew, which also includes Nasa’s Kate Rubins and Russia’s Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov.

So far, only 14 black Americans have been to space out of a total of more than 300 Nasa astronauts, according to the New York Times.

Mr Glover is not the first black astronaut to spend time on the space station, but those who preceded him have only made brief stays there.

Speaking to reporters after arriving at the space station, he described being in orbit as “surreal”, adding: “I’ve seen tons of pictures.

“But when I first looked out the window at the Earth, it’s hard to describe.

“There are no words… It was an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime feeling.”

Mr Glover also said he is adjusting to the sensation of weightlessness.

He joked: “My brain is constantly trying to figure out where up is.

“I don’t know if it’s because I’m a new guy, they made me sleep in the ceiling.

“So every time I pop my head out, the entire space station is upside down.

“So I just stay upside down as much as possible.”

SpaceX operational crewed flight
Left to right, Shannon Walker, Victor Gover, Michael Hopkins and Soichi Noguchi (James Blair/Nasa)

Mr Glover graduated with a bachelor’s degree in general engineering from California Polytechnic State University in 1999.

Later, he earned three master’s degrees – in flight test engineering, systems engineering and military operational art and science.

Mr Glover began his career in the US Navy as a test pilot before working his way up to commander.

He was selected as an astronaut in 2013 while serving as a legislative fellow in the United States senate.

For Nasa, SpaceX’s first operational crewed flight marks the beginning of using private firms as a “taxi service” to fly its crew to and from the space station.

Meanwhile fellow astronaut Jeanette Epps, who is expected to fly to the space station next year aboard Boeing’s Starliner capsule, could become the first black woman to be part of an ISS crew.

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