Pomona-born astronaut makes history as 1st African American to join extended mission on space station

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A Southern California native made history this week as the first Black astronaut to work at the International Space Station as a long-term crew member.

Victor Glover, who was born in Pomona and graduated from Ontario High School in 1994, arrived at the NASA outpost on Tuesday as part of SpaceX’s second crew launch. The 44-year-old Navy commander and pilot is the only space rookie of the four-member crew, who’s staying at the station for six months.

For NASA, the mission begins regular crew rotations at the space station with the help of a private company’s spacecraft.

Glover was chosen as an astronaut in 2013 while he served as a legislative fellow at the U.S. Senate.

Asked about his career trajectory in an interview released by NASA, Glover noted his experience at Ontario High School.

“It goes way back,” he said. “So high school athlete, love being part of a small high-performing team, wrestling and football. [I] was fortunate to wrestle in college while pursuing my engineering education.”

He graduated from the California Polytechnic State University, San Lus Obispo in 1999 before earning three master’s degrees between 2007 and 2010 at the Edwards Air Force Base in California, the Naval Postgraduate School and the Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama.

Glover said he originally wanted to be a Navy SEAL.

“I wind up deciding to go into aviation and learn to fly,” he said.

Black astronauts have made short stays at the space station before, according to The New York Times, but Glover is the first one to join a crew for an extended stay.

“It is bittersweet because I’ve had some amazing colleagues before me that really could have done it, and there are some amazing folks that will go behind me,” he said of the milestone in a recent interview with The Christian Chronicle. “I wish it would have already been done, but I try not to draw too much attention to it.”

Over the summer, as Americans protested on the streets following the killing of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, Glover spoke about racial injustice on Twitter.

In response to a question about astronauts sticking to space, he explained: “Remember who is doing space. People are. As we address extreme weather and pandemic disease, we will understand and overcome racism and bigotry so we can safely and together do space. Thanks for asking.”

Glover has four children with his wife, Dionna Odom of Berkeley, according to NASA. His mother still lives in Southern California, and his father and stepmother reside in Prosper, Texas.

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