- Members of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 recently returned to Earth after spending six months on the ISS.
- In a live question-and-answer session this week, the mission was celebrated for the diversity of its crew selection.
- Victor Glover spoke of being the first black astronaut to embark on a long-term trip to the ISS.
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NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission astronauts – Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, NASA’s Mike Hopkins and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Soichi Noguchi – recently returned to Earth after completing the longest space flight never performed by an American vehicle.
At a virtual event hosted by NASA earlier this week, astronauts answered questions about their historic mission to the International Space Station (ISS). The event marked the first official event for the astronauts since their return.
During the live Q&A, Glover, who was the Crew Dragon spacecraft pilot and mission second-in-command, was asked to give a perspective on being the first black astronaut to embark on a long-duration space flight aboard the ISS.
He said: “I got a lot of emails and messages from people saying, ‘Hey my kid saw you and they’re so excited and it’s great that he can watch the NASA TV show. and see someone who looks like him, ‘and I think that’s important. ”
He continued, “I think we should all be able to dream in all colors.”
NASA frequently hosts events and initiatives to celebrate its diversity – like the one that marked the contributions of its Asia-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) employees on Tuesday.
Although NASA’s astronaut corps has grown increasingly diverse over the years, there is still work to be done. A 2020 Workforce Data report released by NASA shows that 72% of NASA employees are white or Caucasian. 12% are black or African American, 8% are Asian American or Pacific Islander, 7% are Hispanic or Latin American; 1% are Native American or Alaska Native, and less than 1% belong to more than one race.
As the New York Times reports, Glover is only the 15th black American astronaut to travel in space out of a total of more than 300 NASA bodies.
“I’m glad I was in this position,” he said in the virtual Q&A, but added that it was not something he chose.
NASA first included black Americans in the astronaut program in the 1960s, when Ed Dwight, an Air Force test pilot, was selected as an astronaut candidate. But he’s never been to space. Instead, Guion S. Bluford became the first black American to travel to space in 1983 aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger.
Since then, more African-American astronauts have gone to space but not many, despite a much more inclusive selection process than in previous decades.
The return of Glover and his fellow crew members to Earth has shown that SpaceX can safely perform full crew rotations and land humans. Last year, the company propelled NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the ISS for a two-month test flight.
In the most recent mission, the Resilience spacecraft, carrying the four crew members, crashed in the Gulf of Mexico at 2:57 a.m.ET. It was the first nighttime splashdown since 1968, as Insider previously reported.