The question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” has routinely been answered by kids around the world with “an astronaut.” For one Cal Poly grad, that dream became a reality nearly a decade ago, and the work he continues to do pushes past the limits of our atmosphere. KSBY’s Neil Hebert caught up with NASA astronaut and second-in-command on a recent trip to space, Victor Glover.
“When we hit 100 kilometers we were in space. I'm sitting next to Shannon Walker, and we fist bump each other,” said Victor Glover of his experience breaking through into space for the first time.
Glover is one of just 43 current NASA astronauts and was second-in-command on the Crew-1 SpaceX Crew Dragon, named Resilience, that was docked at the International Space Station for 168 days, landing back on Earth on May 2, 2021.
“I went to one of the windows and I picked up my tablet and I started recording because I knew, ‘I'm going to get to look at the Earth in space,’” said Glover.
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
That video now has more than 2.3 million views on Twitter, and each one was well worth the watch.
“I looked out the window, and I was speechless; blown away,” said Glover.
A Mustang wrestler and football player during his time at Cal Poly, Glover, along with the other astronauts, needed to stay fit during their months-long expedition, even while weightless in orbit.
“Space has some other magic. I weight lifted pretty hard: I guess it's not lifting, it's just resistance training. I was pushing myself, but I never felt sore. I never felt sore up there. You know, we're weightless,” said Glover. “If you were to look at it on a cellular level, my cells would be expanded and offloaded. I think something about that condition makes your body much more efficient. I felt great. I only needed seven hours of sleep. I could work out really hard, and recovery was just faster than it was on Earth.”
Glover graduated from Cal Poly with a degree in engineering and went on to become an astronaut in 2013, but even the most successful and strongest-willed humans can have their doubts.
“You've heard about survivor's guilt — that concept that most of us have this feeling that I'm not qualified to be here — I had that,” said Glover. “I showed up to NASA and I'm like, ‘Man, this is massive. John Glenn, Al Bean, Alan Shepard, NASA, and I'm here, and I'm a military pilot. Boy, I'm not ready to fill those shoes.’ But I didn't focus on all that. I just focused on one step at a time.”
Glover continues to be enamored with the job nearly a decade after fulfilling his childhood dream.
“In 12 days, we're going to launch a human spacecraft to the moon, and then that'll clear us out to send humans back to the moon,” said Glover. “(It’s) pretty phenomenal. And to be on this team that's doing that, I'm sitting here giggling. This is crazy. I work at the place that's going to do that.”
As for what’s next:
“Going back to space is definitely on the menu of options, but that's really up to my boss, and his boss, and his boss,” said Glover. “I should stay here until we get humans back to the moon. My kids in high school and NASA's mission to get humans back to sustainably around the moon are a big part of my professional pursuit.”
Until that call comes, Glover will continue his work in Earth’s atmosphere.
Glover completed four spacewalks while in orbit. He said working for NASA is kind of like being on an American Olympic team, or on Team USA, because they’re all working toward the same goals of space exploration.