Victor Glover becomes first Black astronaut on NASA’s extended space station

Glover, who earned three degrees in three years, joins a distinctive class of men in American history.

Navy commander and test pilot Victor J. Glover is now the first Black astronaut to live aboard the International Space Station. 

Commander Glover and three other astronauts departed on Sunday in a capsule called Resilience and will spend about six months aboard the space station. 

NASA astronaut Victor Glover waves to family members after walking out of the Operations and Checkout Building on his way to the SpaceX Crew Dragon at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral. Glover is the first Black crew member to live on the international space station. (Photo by Red Huber/Getty Images)

Glover is not the first African American to visit the space station, but previous members were parts of space shuttle crews who only made brief stays at the center. 

A native of Southern California, Glover is a graduate of California Polytechnic State University and earned three master’s degrees — in in-flight test engineering, systems engineering and military operational art and science — in three years. 

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NASA released a short video to Twitter celebrating Glover’s historic assignment. 

Glover has been vocal about the significance of his mission, as well as those of other African Americans who have played a role in space exploration. NASA has also been diligent in highlighting “Hidden Figures to Modern Figures” within the history of the organization. The research led to the successful, Academy Award-winning 2016 film, Hidden Figures

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Guion S. Bluford Jr. became the first Black American in space in 1983 aboard the space shuttle Challenger. The second, Ron McNair, died three years later when the shuttle exploded alongside six other astronauts, including Christa McAuliffe, who was the first teacher in space. 

Mae Jemison became the first Black woman in space aboard the shuttle Endeavor in 1992.

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This summer, Glover spoke out about the protests for racial justice that flooded American streets. One social media user asked if he should not just “stick to space.” 

“Actually no,” he replied. “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.”

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In a new press video from NASA, Glover slipped in a dig at President Donald Trump, who is refusing to concede in the 2020 presidential election.

“You know, unlike the election — that is in the past or receding in the past — this mission is still ahead of me.” he said. “So, let’s get there, and I’ll talk to you after I get on board.”

Glover noted that his mission 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.” 

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