Just a day after blasting off for his mission aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule “Resilience” on Sunday, NASA astronaut Victor Glover became the first Black person to embark on a long-term stay at the International Space Station.
Glover, along with fellow NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins and Shannon Walker, and Soichi Noguchi of Japan, arrived Monday night (Nov. 16) after a 27-hour trip, according to Space.com.
The ISS has had residents on the orbiting space platform for two decades now. However, Glover, 44, a U.S. Navy commander and test pilot, is the first African American to stay there long term. Other Blacks have been to the station before but were only there on space shuttle missions while it was being constructed. He is one of 15 Black astronauts out of 300 people that NASA has sent to space.
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"It is something to be celebrated once we accomplish it, and, you know, I am honored to be in this position and to be a part of this great and experienced crew," Glover said at a news conference a week ago, reported Space.com. "And I look forward to getting up there and doing my best to make sure that, you know, we are worthy of all the work that's been put into setting us up for this mission."
Glover is scheduled to spend six months on the station as a crewmember of the Expedition 64 and 65 missions. He was selected for the NASA astronauts program in 2013 and this is the first spaceflight for him.
The next Black person to go to space is expected to be Jeanette Epps, who will ride Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner capsule to the ISS when it launches in 2021.
The first African American astronaut was Guion Bluford, who traveled into outer space in 1983 aboard the space shuttle Challenger. The first Black person was Cuban cosmonaut Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez, who was part of the Russian Soyuz 38 mission in 1980. The first Black woman to travel to space was Mae Jemison, who was part of the Space Shuttle Endeavor crew in 1992.