- NASA's SpaceX Crew-1 members recently returned to Earth after a six-month stint on the ISS.
- In a live Q&A this week, the mission was celebrated for its diverse crew selection.
- Victor Glover discussed being the first Black astronaut to embark on a long-term ISS trip.
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The astronauts of NASA's SpaceX Crew-1 mission – Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, Mike Hopkins of NASA, and Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency – recently returned to Earth after completing the longest spaceflight any US vehicle has ever flown.
In a virtual event hosted by NASA earlier this week, the astronauts answered questions about their historic mission on the International Space Station (ISS). The event marked the astronauts' first official event since upon their return.
During the live Q&A, Glover, who was the pilot of the Crew Dragon spacecraft and second-in-command for the mission, was asked to provide perspective on being the first Black astronaut to embark on a long-duration spaceflight aboard the ISS.
He said: "I've been receiving a lot of emails and messages from folks that say, 'Hey, my kid saw you and they're so excited and it's great that he can look at the NASA TV broadcast and see someone that looks like him,' and I think that's important."
He continued: "I think we all need to be able to dream in all colours."
NASA frequently runs events and initiatives to celebrate its diversity - such as one on Tuesday that marked the contributions of its Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) employees.
Though NASA's astronaut corps have become increasingly diverse throughout the years - there is still more work to be done. A 2020 workforce data report published by NASA shows that 72% of NASA employees are White or Caucasian. 12% are Black or African American, 8% are Asian American or Pacific Islander, 7% are Hispanic or Latino; 1% are American Indian or Alaska Native, and less than 1% are more than one race.
As reported by The New York Times, Glover is only the 15th Black American astronaut to travel to space out of a total of more than 300 NASA corps.
"I'm glad to have been in this position," he said in the virtual Q&A, but added that it wasn't something he chose.
NASA first included Black Americans in the astronaut program back in the 1960s when Ed Dwight, an Air Force test pilot, was selected as an astronaut candidate. But he never went to space. Instead, Guion S. Bluford became the first Black American to travel to space in 1983 aboard the Challenger space shuttle.
Since then, more African American astronauts have gone to space but not many, despite a much more inclusive selection process than in previous decades.
Glover and his fellow crew members' return to Earth showed that SpaceX can carry out full-length crew rotations and land humans safely. Last year, the company rocketed NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the ISS for a two-month test flight.
In the more recent mission, the Resilience spaceship, carrying all four crew members, splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico at 2:57 a.m. ET. This was the first nighttime splashdown since 1968, as Insider previously reported.