Citizens think that the Black Lives Matter protests coinciding with NASA’s historic launch are a reminder of the past Apollo period. In July 1969, civil liberties activists protested in front of the Kennedy Space Center just before the deployment of Apollo 11 for the lunar mission. Similarly, NASA’s historic launch of the SpaceX Crew Dragon happened amidst Black Lives Matter protests.
NASA’s deputy administrator from 2009 to 2013 Lori Garver explains that NASA is not subjective towards matters of equality. She reiterates this after challenging NASA to recruit more women and people of color as astronauts during her term in service. NASA responded by hiring the first female astronaut and first Black astronaut in 1978 and 1979, respectively.
Garver enumerates that it is despicable that of the 350 US astronauts to launch for space, only fourteen are blacks. The space industry appears to be slowly giving in to calls for justice and racial equality. The industry is initiating various programs to cover up for this insufficiency.
Aviation Week’s annual aerospace and defense report indicates that attention is shifting towards the diversification of the space industry workforce. For example, Relativity Space will be recruiting a racially diversified team to display their commitment to counteracting racial discrimination.
The satellite operator SES submitted that they would assist in the charity program for the Black Lives Matter campaign.
Virgin Galactic pledged to initiate a new scholarship program as part of its campaign to support Black Americans’ venture in science, engineering, and technology studies. This move will be effected through the $100000 project.
Virgin Galactic revealed that the students under this program would receive financial support and job opportunities once they graduate. Other supporters of this program are Virgin Orbit, Spaceship Company, and Virgin Hyperloop.
Another initiative called the Brooke Owens Fellowship, announced that Garver, the founder of the foundation, will be vacating the position for other women. She explains that the role is overwhelming for her and that there are other suitable representatives for this position.
The Blue Origin chief executive Bob Smith advised employees to support their colleagues experiencing racism and vigilant against racist remarks and actions. In a letter, the CEO addresses that the various killings, including Ahmaud Arbery’s shooting death, George Floyd killing, and Taylor’s killing, fuel the country to plunge into unrest.
Finally, Garver supports renaming the Stennis Space Center after finding out Stennis’ namesake while under the tutelage of a Black president and administrator. She is happy that NASA has renamed the Lewis Research Center after Glenn and the Dryden Flight Research Center in commemoration of Armstrong.