The announcement even came on the heels of the 30th anniversary of the late Sally Ride’s historic mission as the first woman in space.
But Central Coast residents had another reason to be proud: one of those selected is a Cal Poly alum.
No, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Victor Glover isn’t female. But the 37-year-old Pomona native is among the seven scientists and one medical doctor selected to be the next generation of NASA’s elite group.
Glover graduated from Cal Poly with a degree in general engineering in 1999, and is currently working as a Navy legislative fellow for Congress. Before his current gig, he served two years as an F/A-18 pilot in Iraq and flew 24 combat missions, according to a NASA press release.
NASA reportedly selected the eight from about 6,000 applicants, the second-largest pool in history. They will join NASA’s cadre of 49 astronauts.
According to a university press release, Glover is the fourth Cal Poly grad to become a NASA astronaut. The others include four-time space shuttle commander Robert L. “Hoot” Gibson, who earned an aerospace engineering degree in 1969; and Greg Chamitoff and Frederick “Rick” Sturckow, who both graduated with engineering degrees in 1984.
Glover has a ways to go before he breaks through to the final frontier, however. The space administration’s fleet has remained stagnant in recent years since it retired its space shuttles in 2011, and astronauts have been moving on from NASA instead of awaiting highly-competitive missions to the International Space Station.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden told the Associated Press that the newest candidates will focus on leading the first human mission to an asteroid in the next decade or so, followed by the first humanned trip to Mars sometime in the 2030s. It is speculated that Glover’s generation may be the first to travel to space from the U.S. aboard a private commercial vessel. American astronauts currently piggyback aboard Russian spacecraft for missions.
Next stop for Glover will be NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston where he is to begin his two-year training program in August.
New Times was unable to reach the cosmonaut for comment.