Astronaut Victor Glover. Photo provided

By Reginald G. Victor

Herald Contributor

On July 20, 1969, the United States landed men on the moon as part of the Apollo program. There were five other moon landing missions. The Apollo program ended in 1972. The United States has plans to send astronauts back to the moon. The goal of the Artemis program is to return astronauts to the moon and develop an ongoing presence there. The Orion Spacecraft and the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket will be used in this effort. The SLS is essentially a replacement for the powerful Saturn V launch vehicle used for the Apollo moon missions.

The first use of Orion and SLS was Artemis I which was an unmanned mission. It was launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on November 16, 2022. The Orion spacecraft successfully orbited the moon and returned to the Earth on December 11, 2022.聽 It is planned for the Artemis II mission to also orbit the moon, but it will have an astronaut crew. Victor Glover has been selected as one of this four-person crew. He will be the first African American astronaut to leave Earth orbit and fly to the moon.

Glover is 46 years old and is from Pomona, California. He had an initial interest in space travel when he was in elementary school after he saw a Space Shuttle launch on television. He did not think of that as a serious career goal at that time. Glover鈥檚 fifth grade teacher noticed his aptitude in math and science and suggested that engineering might be a good career path.

Space X Crew Dragon. Photo provided

After finishing high school, he enrolled in the California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly)聽in San Luis Obispo, California to become an automotive design engineer. Glover鈥檚 passion was athletics. He excelled in football and wrestling and was able to obtain a wrestling scholarship. He graduated from Cal Poly with an engineering degree in 1999. Glover is married to his wife Dionna they have four children. Two of his daughters are currently attending Cal Poly.

Glover joined the U.S. Navy after being inspired by an African American Naval Reserve Officer that visited his college. He said, 鈥淭hat changed my life鈥檚 direction.鈥 After attending Officer Candidate School, Glover was commissioned as a Naval officer. He attended Navy pilot training and became a fighter pilot. He flew combat missions in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Glover eventually attended Test Pilot School and conducted test flights in the F/A -18 Hornet and EA-18G Growler aircraft.

Glover earned engineering master’s degrees from Air University at Edwards Air Force Base in California, the Naval Postgraduate School, and Air University in Montgomery, Alabama. He also attended Air Command and Staff College (ACSC). A requirement at ACSC is to perform a staff job. Glover applied to do a fellowship in Congress. He was accepted to be a legislative fellow and worked in the office of Senator John McCain.

Planned Artemis II journey to the moon. Photo provided

Glover applied to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to become an astronaut and was selected in 2013. His selection as an astronaut and his impactful career in military aviation is significant because his grandfather, who wanted to become an Air Force pilot, was not successful. 鈥淢y grandfather was in the Air Force in the Korean War era and faced lots of institutional barriers to him having an opportunity to fly,鈥 said Glover. He is inspired by former African American astronauts. Glover especially admires Dr. Guy Bluford, who was the first African American astronaut to fly into space in 1983.

Glover鈥檚 first mission into space came in November 2020. He flew on the first operational mission of the Space X Crew-1 Dragon spacecraft. The Crew Dragon is part of the Commercial Crew Program in which NASA is partnering with private industry to deliver astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS). Before the use of the Crew Dragon spacecraft, astronauts used the Space Shuttle or the Russian Soyuz spacecraft to reach the ISS.聽 Crew-1 was launched from the Kennedy Space Center on November 16, 2020, and docked with the ISS. Glover鈥檚 crew spent a total of 168 days in orbit and returned to the Earth on May 2, 2021. He took part in four spacewalks during that timeframe.

Artemis II won鈥檛 land on the moon, however, if the mission is successful, a moon landing will be attempted in Artemis III. Artemis II is scheduled for some time in 2025.

鈥淎rtemis II is a mission that has to happen before we send people to the surface of the moon. It is the next step on the journey that gets humanity to Mars,鈥 said Glover.

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