Learn by Doing in Space: Cal Poly Alum Victor Glover Shares His Experience Walking in Space During Live Interview from the International Space Station

Cal Poly alumnus Victor Glover has completed four spacewalks during his time at the INternational Space Station.
Victor Glover works to upgrade the power system outside the International Space Station. (Courtesy of NASA)
Cal Poly alumnus and astronaut Victor Glover spoke with President Jefffrey D. Armstrong and fellow alumnus Lacey Davis.
NASA astronaut Victor Glover (top left) spoke with fellow alumnus Lacey Davis and Cal Poly President Jeffrey D. Armstrong from the International Space Station.

During his 7-year astronaut training, Cal Poly alumnus Victor Glover frequently simulated the experience of walking in space. But even with all that training, his first spacewalk turned out to be his biggest Learn by Doing experience since traveling to the International Space Station (ISS) last November.

“There are some things that were very similar, but there were several things that were very different (from the training),” the NASA astronaut said, during a special live streaming interview arranged by Cal Poly Alumni. “And there’s no way to prepare for going outside the International Space Station – into the vacuum of space for the first time – other than to do it.”

Glover (General Engineering, 99), who initially honed his Learn by Doing skills at Cal Poly, completed a 6-month stay aboard the ISS. As part of his outreach from space, he was interviewed by Lacey Davis, a recent Cal Poly aerospace engineering graduate and aspiring astronaut herself. Davis, who is currently pursuing graduate studies at Purdue University, asked questions posed by alumni, faculty, students and a 9-year-old boy. Cal Poly President Jeffrey D. Armstrong offered introductions.

During his stay, Glover has helped upgrade the ISS’s power system, work that has entailed functions outside the station.  

Victor Glover has walked in space four times.
Victor Glover has participated in four spacewalks during his time at the International Space Station. (Courtesy of NASA)

“In a span of 45 days, we actually completed five spacewalks, and I went outside on four of them,” Glover said. “And the fourth one is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.”

The fourth walk lasted nearly seven hours, he said, noting that he remembered good advice someone had given him to “keep your world small.”

“Meaning focus on the tasks at hand,” he said. “One thing at a time. And that’s how I got through that 7-hour adventure, by doing one thing at a time.”

The first spacewalk, however, was the one he cited as his biggest Learn by Doing effort in space. On that first trip, he said, he was so busy and focused, he couldn’t spend much time “sightseeing.”

“On the second one I had a lot more awareness . . . and I had time to look at the moon and the planet and the beauty of it all.”

When someone asked what could be done to “create an even better home for humans” on other planets, Glover was loyal to his native planet.

“There isn’t a better home for humanity than the one we have now,” he said, standing in semi-gravity 250 miles from Earth. “We need to understand it, so we can treat it with the respect it deserves. Our home planet is precious.”

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