The first crewed mission around the moon in more than 50 years will have a Black pilot at the helm.

NASA astronaut and former U.S. Navy Captain Victor Glover, Jr. will join the Artemis II crew alongside mission commander Reid Wiseman and specialists Christina Koch and Jeremy Hansen, on a mission around the moon, NASA announced on Monday.

Glover’s historic crew – the first to have a woman, a Canadian and an African American go to the moon – anticipates boarding the Orion and launching to the moon in November 2024. Their mission follows in the footsteps of the famous Apollo missions of the 1960s and 1970s that paved the way for lunar exploration.

“The Artemis II crew represents thousands of people working tirelessly to bring us to the stars. This is their crew, this is our crew, this is humanity’s crew,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.

NASA Video via AP

Born and raised in California, Glover graduated with a bachelor’s degree in general engineering from California Polytechnic State University and has three masters degrees in flight test engineering, systems engineering and military operational art and science.

Between NASA and the U.S. military, Glover has over 20 years as an aviator, flying over 40 different aircrafts. His career at NASA started in 2013 when he was selected as one of the eight members of the 21st NASA astronaut class. As part of the Artemis II mission, he’ll serve as second in command over the mission to get humans to the moon and back.

“The most exciting aspect of this mission for me is the exploration [that] we’re doing is the first few steps of the path of getting humans to Mars, and I don’t think that can be overstated,” Glover shared in the announcement.

The Artemis Program, started in 2017, began with Artemis I in November 2022, a 25-day unmanned mission to the moon to test the Orion spacecraft’s capabilities. Artemis II, the anticipated 10-day mission that will take Glover to space, will be the first manned flight test around the moon to test their capabilities to explore deep space and pave the way for NASA’s long-term plans to bring humans back to the moon’s surface.

“Together, we are ushering in a new era of exploration for a new generation of star sailors and dreamers – the Artemis Generation,” Nelson stated in the announcement.

The crew announcement was broadcast in front of a crowd at Johnson Space Center’s Ellington Field in Houston, Texas. On stage, Glover thanked the families of the crew for their support and counts himself and the crew as grateful to take on the ambitious mission.

“Human spaceflight is like a relay race,” Glover said. “That baton has been passed [from] generation to generation, from crew member to crew member.” Black astronauts, scientists and engineers have been contributing to NASA’s mission since the agency was established.

Glover is the latest addition to a long line of African American pioneers in space: Mae Jamison became the first Black woman in space when she boarded the Space Shuttle Endeavour in 1992. Bernard Harris, Jr. followed in her footsteps in 1995 as the first African American to embark on a spacewalk. Aerospace engineer Jeanette Epps made history in 2017 as the first African American space station crew member and the 15th African American to fly in space. This along with trailblazing scientists on the ground like Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson and Dorothy Vaughan, who in the 1960s and 1970s worked on the Apollo lunar missions including the one that sent astronaut John Glenn into orbit.

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2 Comments

  1. This is wonderful new since I have a bi-racial family. I have a grandson in Liberia (West Africa) who has ambitions to become a pilot. I have started him on simple model airplanes, telling him and his family that famous aircraft/spacecraft designer Burt Rutan started with models. Personally I am a flying club pilot (instrument rated) who has flown my family on vacations and family events.

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