It did not happen overnight. But it did happen. Earlier this week, NASA announced that its first flight around the moon in 50 years will be piloted by Victor J. Glover, Jr., the first African American astronaut selected for a lunar mission. Glover will be joined by three other astronauts, Reid Wiseman, Jeremy Hansen and Christina Koch, the mission specialist who will be the first female astronaut on a moon capsule. Their mission, named Artemis II, is scheduled to launch in late 2024 or early 2025.

Glover is a Navy captain and test pilot He became the first Black astronaut to complete a long-term stay on the International Space Station. While in space for 168 days as a station systems flight engineer, Glover contributed to scientific investigations and technology demonstrations, and completed four spacewalks.

The Artemis II crew is currently undergoing intense training as it prepares for the historic flight around the moon. “We train for what we do, and getting used to something (and) training for it not only makes you better at it, it helps you to work through the nerves when you do have them, because you know what the first thing is to do, and you know what the next thing is to do,” Captain Glover said. “It’s a part of the power of training and being prepared.”

From the NASA website, below is more about Captain Glover, who has built a personal brand that some could describe as out of this world:

“Glover was selected as an astronaut in 2013 while serving as a Legislative Fellow in the United States Senate.  He most recently served as pilot and second-in-command on the Crew-1 SpaceX Crew Dragon, named Resilience, which landed May 2, 2021.  It is the first post-certification mission of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft – the second crewed flight for that vehicle – and a long duration mission aboard the International Space Station. He also served as Flight Engineer on the International Space Station for Expedition 64. Glover has been assigned as Pilot of NASA’s Artemis II mission.

The California native holds a Bachelor of Science in General Engineering, a Master of Science in Flight Test Engineering, a Master of Science in Systems Engineering and a Master of Military Operational Art and Science. Glover is a Naval Aviator and was a test pilot in the F/A‐18 Hornet, Super Hornet and EA‐18G Growler. He and his family have been stationed in many locations in the United States and Japan and he has deployed in combat and peacetime.

Glover graduated from Ontario High School, Ontario, California, 1994. Bachelor of Science in General Engineering, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, California, 1999. Master of Science in Flight Test Engineering (USAF TPS), Air University, Edwards Air Force Base, California, 2007. Master of Science in Systems Engineering (PD‐21), Naval Postgraduate School, 2009. Master of Military Operational Art and Science, Air University, Montgomery, Alabama, 2010.”

Captain Glover also holds memberships in memberships in Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) Alumni; Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Incorporated (Life Member); Society of Experimental Test Pilots; National Society of Black Engineers; International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE); and Tailhook Association.

Becoming an astronaut is a highly selective and competitive process. After applying, NASA’s Astronaut Selection Board reviews applications and applicant’s qualifications. Small groups of applicants are invited to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas to be part of the interview process. Only about half of this small group make it to a second round of interviews. Sometimes, less than 1% of applicants are finally selected by NASA.

As NASA revealed during its announcement, Glover and his crew won’t land on the moon, but their mission will pave the way for a subsequent crew to touchdown on the moon’s surface.

In selecting a woman and a person of color for this latest mission, NASA is elevating its brand by keeping its promise to bring greater diversity to its exploration efforts.