The feeling that overcame astronaut and Pomona native Victor Glover when he looked back at Earth for the first time after the Resilience SpaceX Crew-1 Dragon safely reached orbit in November was one that he said he wanted to remember. So he pulled out his smartphone to record his thoughts, later posting the video on Twitter.
My first video from space! Looking at the Earth through the window of Dragon Resilience. The scale of detail and sensory inputs made this a breathtaking perspective! pic.twitter.com/n7b5x0XLIp
— Victor Glover (@AstroVicGlover) November 24, 2020
“It wasn’t about the view,” he said during a media briefing Monday, April 26, “but how the view made me feel. Every time I look out the window in the cupola (observatory module on the ISS), I feel the same way. Earth is amazing. It’s beautiful. It protest us, so we should work hard to protect it.”
Glover and three other astronauts — Commander Michael Hopkins, Shannon Walker and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi — reflected on their mission during a live broadcast on NASA TV Monday, April 26, as their six-month stay on the ISS comes to a close Wednesday when they return back to Earth.
For Glover, who serves as pilot and second-in-command for Resilience, the mission has marked a number of firsts, including his own first to space. The other three crewmembers have journeyed to the ISS before. Glover is also the first Black astronaut to spend a full six-month period in space and the 15th Black astronaut overall.
“It’s a great thing to be here in space and be a part of this historic mission in so many ways,” Glover said. “What I think it says is the agency is doing what it can to continue to explore space safely, but also do it inclusively in a way that represents the best and brightest of America.”
The six-month mission included a variety of experiments including growing radishes and basil as part of ongoing efforts to grow food in space. Other experiments involved “tissue chips” that mimic the structure and function of human organs to understand the role of microgravity on health and diseases.
Glover performed several space walks during the mission — suited up in full astronaut gear and suspended outside the station — including one that was unplanned to make certain repairs. It was Glover’s fourth space walk and the most challenging.
“There were lots of details and activities outside that required a lot of focus and physical effort,” Glover said. “It was a pretty physically demanding activity… It was a grind, we got a great workout that day.”
Glover grew up in Pomona, graduated from Ontario High and earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (he’s also got three Masters degrees).
It’s become crowded on the International Space Station with the arrival Saturday, April 24, of the second four-member SpaceX Crew-2, bringing to 11 the number of astronauts onboard the ISS. Crewmembers have needed to make some special sleeping arrangements to accommodate the crowd, though it’s not the most number of people on board which was 13.
“You can really feel how busy it is up here,” said Walker.
The Crew-1 Dragon spacecraft is planned to depart the space station 4 a.m. PST Wednesday and splash down in the Atlantic Ocean at 9:40 a.m. PST. Although all but Glover have experienced re-entry before, Wednesday will be a first onboard the SpaceX craft.
“Landings are always fairly dynamic especially with the capsules like this and when the shoots are opening, so that’s always exciting,” Hopkins said. “With this new vehicle and not having landed before, we’re going over our procedures and making sure that when we get into that sequence of events that we’re following right along and it takes us along those steps for a safe landing.”
During his time on board the space station, Glover has kept in touch with the world below through Twitter and through direct contacts with schoolkids and other engagements over livestream broadcasts. He said he was captivated as a kid by rockets and the early Space Shuttle missions, and the same holds true for young people today finding inspiration.
“The shuttle was an amazing thing to watch as a kid. The SpaceX boosters coming back and landing on the ships. Those things captivate people. That grabs their heart and then you have the opportunity to fill their brains,” he said. “Be resilient, be lifelong learners and be good teammates. I think those things are recipes for success no mater what you do… You can look at the news and see that the world needs the best that we can muster. It needs the best that we can offer each and every day.”
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