On April 3, NASA revealed the crew of Artemis 2, the first crewed flight of the Orion spacecraft that is slated for launch as soon as late 2024. Reid Wiseman, Victor Glover, Christina Koch and Jeremy Hansen will be the first humans to go to the vicinity of the moon since the Apollo 17 landing in 1972, flying around the moon on the 10-day mission.
Glover, the pilot for Artemis 2, joined the astronaut corps a decade ago after serving as a naval aviator. He flew to the International Space Station on the Crew-1 mission in late 2020, spending nearly six months there. At the time NASA selected him for the mission, he was in a management role in the astronaut office.
A few hours after the crew announcement event, Glover sat down with SpaceNews to talk about the experience of being named to the mission and what’s next. A condensed version of the interview follows.
When did you find you were going on Artemis 2?
On Tuesday, March 7. The chief astronaut set up meetings with all of us at the same time, and each one had a different title. We were all supposed to meet at crew quarters, the astronaut quarantine facility. I was coming from a luncheon with my staff. Christina thought it was a virtual meeting, so she was at the Neutral Buoyancy Lab. Reid had something else due to his retirement from the Navy. So we were all different places, and we’re late.
When we got there, not only was our boss there, but our boss’s boss, so we all feel terrible. After a little bit, Norm [Knight, director of flight operations] says to us, “How would you feel about flying on Artemis 2?” It was a profound moment, a shocking moment. It’s a humbling but important thing to be a part of.
When do you start training for the mission?
Training starts in June. We’ll start suit fittings actually next week, but training starts in earnest in June. There’s also not just training but, because this is the first crewed flight, there’s still plenty of development work. We’ve got engineering evaluations, verification events that we still have to for Orion and even some of the ground systems. We have a lot of work to do.
Is there any part of the mission you’re particularly looking forward to?
Splashdown. Every moment on a space mission can turn into a critical thing, so splashdown is the first time we get to really exhale. But as a human being, I’m really excited about this journey I get to take with these three other people representing this amazing Astronaut Office, which represents our country and humanity. In this next two or three years of training, I’m just looking forward to every moment — the training, the testing, the interviews — because there’s so much excitement about this moment.
Has it sunk in yet that you’re going to be part of the first crew to go beyond low Earth orbit in more than half a century?
No. I’m the assigned crew branch chief. The folks that are on the space station right now like Frank Rubio, Crew-6, the cosmonauts up there, the folks that are training to launch very soon and the folks that just got back, those are all part of my branch’s mission. That’s such a rewarding but very busy job that I really haven’t had time to switch gears. I’m glad we have until June because over the next couple of months, as I transition to the new person who’s replacing me, I need to give myself time to transition. I mean, it’s not just flipping a switch.
What was your family’s reaction?
I was in California and my daughter is in college there, so we drove down to where she was. I had the chance to get my whole family together and tell them — my wife already knew, but I got to tell my kids all together at least. I was blown away by how excited they were. They’re all in.
Do you have any regrets that, because you’re going around the moon on Artemis 2, you won’t get to walk on the moon on Artemis 3?
No regrets. The best mission is always the next thing smokin’ and so the chance to fly on this is amazing. Being on this mission, meaning that I’m not going to fly on Artemis 3, doesn’t make me feel bad. When I showed up at NASA, there was no lunar lander program. I had made peace with the fact that going into low Earth orbit for six months is the mission, and I’m happy to do the mission. This opportunity is a gift. Artemis 3 will be a gift for someone else, but I’m really happy with this gift right now.
This article originally appeared in the May 2023 issue of SpaceNews magazine.