The year was 1961 when Edward “Ed” Dwight of Kansas “was chosen by President John F. Kennedy to enter training as an experimental test pilot in preparation to become the first African American astronaut” in history and one of the first men to walk the moon. After the difficult decision to pursue engineering over art, he had attended night classes while training as a USAF fighter pilot, graduating cum laude with a degree in aeronautical engineering. He earned the rank of captain before being selected for aerospace research pilot training—the astronaut track—and successfully completed. Ultimately, he was not chosen, but there was no stopping his creative force; he went on to succeed in pursuits from IBM engineer to barbecue restaurateur. Returning to the fine arts, he reemerged as a renowned sculptor, and he has created over 18,000 gallery pieces and 129 memorial sculptures including the bronze series Black Frontier in the American West.
Official NASA Bio
Since his selection in 1980, former astronaut Charles Bolden of South Carolina has logged over 680 hours in space across four missions (STS-61C, -31, -45, and -60), including the deployment of the Hubble Space Telescope. Prior to his astronaut training, he flew over 100 combat missions in the Marine Corps and served as Commanding General of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. On top of multiple technical assignments at NASA, he was nominated as its 12th administrator in 2009. Per NASA, “dynamic science activities under Bolden include an unprecedented landing on Mars with the Curiosity rover, launch of the Juno spacecraft to Jupiter …, the New Horizons mission to reveal the secrets of Pluto, enhancing the nation’s fleet of Earth-observing satellites, and continued progress toward the 2018 launch of the James Webb Space Telescope … that will again rewrite our understanding of the universe.”
Official NASA Bio
Selected for NASA’s 20th astronaut class in 2009, Col. Michael “Hopper” Hopkins of Missouri logged 166 days in space during Expedition 37/38. The former University of Illinois football captain went on to become the top flight test engineer of the USAF Test Pilot School Class 96B, attaining nine medals in the Air Force before being nominated for transfer to the Space Force in June 2020. A key highlight in both his and Cdr. Glover’s careers has been “training for Crew-1, the first post-certification mission of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft—the second crewed flight for that vehicle—and his second long-duration mission aboard the International Space Station.”
Official NASA Bio
While serving as a legislative fellow of the US senate, Cdr. Victor “Ike” Glover of California was selected as an astronaut in 2013—the year he was named in Jet magazine’s 40 Under 40. He is a naval aviator and former weapons systems test pilot. Prior to certification in legislative studies, he served as department head of Strike Fighter Squadron VFA‐195 in Atsugi, Japan; he accrued “3,000 flight hours in more than 40 aircraft, over 400 carrier arrested landings, and 24 combat missions.” He is training for Crew-1 (ISS Expedition 64) together with Col. Hopkins, in what will be a monumental step toward recapturing “the ability to launch humans into space from United States soil.”
Official NASA Bio