I’ve been trying for months to get an interview with astronaut Victor Glover, who on May 2, 2021 splashed landed to earth after a triumphant mission aboard the International Space Station. Glover was pilot and second-in-command of the flight.
He was also the first Black astronaut to live onboard the ISS as part of a long-duration flight. But back in the day, he was Victor Jr., growing up in Ontario, California. He graduated from Ontario High School in 1994 where he distinguished himself academically and athletically.
Since the Space Station launch, I’ve spoken to Glover’s former classmates, teachers and his dad. They all believed Glover was destined for greatness, in college and in life.
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Now it was my turn to see it for myself.
I spoke to Commander Glover via Zoom on Wednesday on a hot summer’s day. He asked me to call him Victor, so I did.
He was warm, mostly upbeat and sometimes introspective as he talked about everything from his hometown, to his family, to the way history viewed the recent mission.
Glover once dreamed of being a cop like his dad. But his heart to serve would compel him to become a navy pilot and later, a Legislative Fellow in the U.S. Senate, and now as an astronaut; a modern-day explorer.
Victor Glover spoke about the mission and what it meant professionally and personally. Glover is married to college sweetheart, Dionna Odom Glover. They have four teen daughters.
He told me he pulled the kids aside before the start of mission.
"The conversation I had with my daughters before launch, I said I need you. I need you to step up. Take care of each other and your mom," Glover said.
He was delighted they did so.
"Our family is team," Glover said. "This was our mission. Proud how they handled it."
Check out the full interview below:
Glover said during the six-month stay on the Space Station what he missed most was doing homework with his daughters. So they found a way. His daughters would email their work assignments and he would help them from the Space Station. There were weekly video conferences which included Sunday "Worship from Space," which enabled this family of faith to worship together. And there were family game nights, which included remote charades.
Commander Glover said he could do an "epic escalator in weightlessness." I got a good laugh on this one!
As Glover was flying about 220 miles above Earth, the planet, of course, was in crises: a pandemic, racial strife and political polarization. I asked him about his unique perspective while on the mission. He talked about the push and pull of being in space when the January 6 demonstrations at the Capitol turned violent.
Many of his friends still worked there. He wrote his feelings down in a journal. And he took some of his favorite pictures while in space during that time.
"I took a picture of sunrise and emailed it to all my friends in DC," he said. "It was titled, ‘Joy cometh in the morning.’"
And on breaking a color barrier as an African-American onboard. He described a crush of emotion he felt one day while standing at the storied Kennedy Space Center in the weight room.
In that moment, he realized the responsibility he was carrying.
"NASA and the world are elevating the mission. But people who look like me may not be elevated. They may be facing oppression, feeling pushed down and pushed out… I’m in this place that means so much. I’m an astronaut. But when I look in the mirror, I’m a brown astronaut," he said.
And yet, there was staggering beauty in the journey.
"Space, aerospace has an amazing power to connect people. To bring them together…. It puts us all in a place of wonder," he said.