A man in a NASA jumpsuit strikes a victorious pose in front of a US flag.
Enlarge / NASA introduced in August 2018 that Victor Glover could be flying aboard the primary operational Crew Dragon mission to the Worldwide Area Station.

Victor Glover says he doesn’t need the eye. Not for this, at the least. And I consider him.

“I want that there wasn’t something to speak about, however that is not the world that we reside in,” the NASA astronaut acknowledged throughout a current interview.

The time we reside in is the yr 2020, an age that finds the US riven but once more by racial tensions, sparked to life by the killing of George Floyd in Might and exacerbated by a very tense presidential election.

Within the midst of all this, Glover is on the cusp of residing his dream. Chosen to turn into an astronaut in 2013, after coaching like hell for seven years, he is landed a coveted spot on the primary operational Crew Dragon mission to the Worldwide Area Station. As one in every of 4 astronauts on the Crew-1 mission, launching Saturday night, Glover helps to steer America again into area.

Additionally, Vic Glover is Black.

So along with his flight, Glover shouldn’t be solely making historical past because the US will get again into the enterprise of human spaceflight, he’ll turn into the primary Black particular person to reside on the area station. This looks as if a surprising reality. The area station has now been inhabited for greater than 20 years, in spite of everything, and 126 people have lived there throughout that point. However none have been Black. Six African-American astronauts visited the area station throughout shuttle missions, however none stayed aboard as long-term crew members.

When requested about this, Glover tends to deflect. The 4 members of the Crew-1 mission have adopted the “all for one” motto, he explains. “Our crew very deliberately determined to do sure issues in sure methods, in order that we will inform that message about teamwork, and dedication to excellence, in working along with variations,” he stated.

It isn’t that Glover has not considered America’s racial issues. However astronauts are strongly inspired to share solely optimistic messages with the general public. Going in opposition to this suggestion can have unfavourable penalties for flight alternatives. And but within the wake of Floyd’s killing, Glover was clearly scuffling with these points.

“My coronary heart is low, my head is stage, and my religion is excessive. A lot to course of, should you’re struggling, that is OK. I see you, I’m you,” he wrote on Twitter in early June. One follower steered, maybe, that Glover ought to persist with area on his Twitter account. “Truly no,” Glover replied. “Bear in mind who’s doing area. Individuals are. As we handle excessive climate and pandemic illness, we are going to perceive and overcome racism and bigotry so we will safely and collectively do area. Thanks for asking.”

Pressed a bit of extra in the course of the interview, Glover stated one motive he has not spoken extra about these points publicly—past just a few Twitter feedback—is that he has not truly gone to area but. He’d want to speak about issues that he is achieved quite than issues he has but to realize.

“I might like to have one other dialog with you six months from now, as a result of I attempt to avoid the bittersweet dialogue of being the primary Black astronaut assigned to a long-duration mission on the area station,” he stated. “I need to go do it first, I need to go do my job, and so I feel the most effective factor that I can do, higher than something I might say, is to go do my job and do it effectively, after which come again and inform individuals about it. And I feel this job, by its very nature, is inspirational and hopefully provides individuals one thing to unify round and have fun collectively. And if we will try this, after we get again we now have plenty of superb issues to speak about.”

All for one, Crew-1 for all: Shannon Walker, pilot Victor Glover, and Crew Dragon commander Michael Hopkins, all NASA astronauts, and mission specialist Soichi Noguchi, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut.

All for one, Crew-1 for all: Shannon Walker, pilot Victor Glover, and Crew Dragon commander Michael Hopkins, all NASA astronauts, and mission specialist Soichi Noguchi, Japan Aerospace Exploration Company astronaut.

NASA

So the Crew-1 mission shouldn’t be about Glover. But when it is a success, and Glover’s story of going from the internal metropolis to Check Pilot College to area helps elevate up America, he is good with that.

Glover may also turn into the primary Black astronaut to enter area in practically a decade. Alvin Drew is the final Black flier—having served as a mission specialist on STS-133 in 2011. He doesn’t consider racism contributed to the practically decade-long gulf drought. Relatively, Drew stated, it largely displays the truth that the Black astronauts who remained within the corps after the area shuttle program ended have been junior and, as a result of restricted seats on Soyuz automobiles, needed to wait a very long time.

All the identical, he eagerly anticipates Glover’s flight to the area station. It is essential for Black girls and boys to see individuals like them flying into area, residing there, and contributing to exploration of the cosmos. “You need them to see there’s nonetheless that chance,” Drew stated. “That is what I am wanting ahead to.”

The following hole is not going to be so lengthy. NASA has already introduced that one other Black astronaut, Jeannette Epps, will fly to the Worldwide Area Station aboard the primary operational mission of Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft. That flight might happen in 2021 however will extra seemingly slip into 2022 as a result of ongoing software program issues with the Boeing capsule.

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