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'Well Beyond My Wildest Dreams': Pomona's Victor Glover Will Pilot NASA's 2024 Moon Mission

A Black man in a blue jacket with a NASA emblem on the front waves to the crowd inside Houston's NRG Stadium at the NCAA Men's Basketball National Championship on Monday, April 3, 2022.
Astronaut Victor Glover at the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament National Championship game in Houston, Texas.
(Carmen Mandato
Getty Images)
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It's been more than 50 years since an American has set foot on the moon, or even gotten close to it. But next year, NASA is taking one small step back toward the moon, and a Southern Californian will be charged with flying there.

On Monday, NASA named the four astronauts who will crew the upcoming Artemis II mission — and one is Victor Glover, a Southern California native and the first African American assigned to a lunar mission. Glover and the rest of the crew will lift off in 2024 for a 10-day orbit of the moon — where, he says, he will be able to see Earth way off in the distance and the moon from up close.

A Black man wearing a white spacesuit and helmet gives a thumbs up to the camera as two men in black coats wearing face masks assist him out of a large metal spacecraft
Victor Glover is helped out of the SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience spacecraft after landing in the Gulf of Mexico.
(NASA/Getty Images
Getty Images North America)

Amidst all the training and preparation for the flight, Glover, who was born in Pomona, joined our newsroom's public affairs show "AirTalk" to discuss this upcoming giant leap.

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“This is well beyond my wildest dreams,” says Glover, who graduated from Ontario High School in 1994 and went on to study engineering at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo before enlisting in the Navy in 1999 to become a pilot.

Glover’s crew will not be entering lunar orbit; rather, he explained, they will be around the moon on what’s called a free return trajectory. As they leave Earth, the gravitational pull of the moon will bring them close.

Close, in space terms.

“Well, when we say close, we're talking about between 6,000 and 8,000 miles, the diameter of the earth,” Glover says.

Three men and one woman, all wearing blue jumpsuits, smile and laugh in front of a large black backdrop with stars adorning it and a logo that reads "Artemis"
Astronauts Jeremy Hansen, Victor Glover, Reid Wiseman and Christina Hammock Koch celebrate after being selected for the Artemis II mission.
(MARK FELIX/AFP via Getty Images

After that, they will slingshot around the far side of the moon, according to Glover, and the crew will begin its four-day homecoming.

As you can probably imagine, there’s a lot of preparation involved in carrying out this remarkable mission — like learning how the vehicle flies and spending time in the simulator.

“If you imagine getting ready for any athletic competition, there’s stretching and conditioning and nutrition. There's all these foundational things that all athletes do. And the astronaut core is very similar,” Glover says. “We all have basic blocking and tackling things that we do all of the time, flying our jets, our foreign language training, our space station training systems.”

This won't be Glover's first rodeo — in late 2020, he was part of the crew that flew in the SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience capsule to the International Space Station, where he spent six months and completed three spacewalks, becoming the first African American astronaut to live aboard the ISS. He's also an incredibly experienced pilot, with more than 3,000 hours of flight time logged across 40 different types of aircraft.

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A screengrab from a live video stream depicts four astronauts (two men and two women) aboard the International Space Station. A female astronaut holds a microphone and appears to be talking, while an American Sign Language interpreter signs on the right side of the screengrab.
(L-R) Shannon Walker, Victor J. Glover Jr., Kate Rubins, and Michael S. Hopkins speak during the Celebrating America Primetime Special on January 20, 2021.
(Handout/Biden Inaugural Committee via Ge
Getty Images North America)

Though outer space is the backdrop for Artemis II, this mission will reverberate in communities here on Earth. Tuesday, April 4 marks the 55th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Glover says that after Dr. King was killed, protesters at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida demanded that the Apollo mission be called off. And our political climate today is also divided, Glover says, along lines like race or political preference.

This is well beyond my wildest dreams.
— Victor Glover, NASA astronaut

“And so this mission also has the power to unify and to bring our country together,” Glover says. “But more important than that is also to heal and to acknowledge a little bit of our history, and where we were and where we are now.”

Glover, a father of four, says he takes his role seriously as a role model to African American kids — and that kids need to truly believe they can be anything.

“I hope that this crew can continue to serve as an inspiration for diversity and representation as we go on to explore for all,” Glover says. “I will have Southern California with me in my heart.”

Listen to the conversation

NASA Pilot Victor Glover Interview 04.04.2023
What questions do you have about Southern California?

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