Posted on April 21, 2023

Artemis II Pilot Wants to Talk About “Whitey on the Moon” With His Colleagues

Miriam Kramer, Axios, April 18, 2023

NASA astronaut Victor Glover, recently named as the pilot of the Artemis II mission around the Moon, listens to Gil Scott-Heron’s poem “Whitey on the Moon” twice a week on the way to work.

The big picture: The rhetoric around NASA, the space industry and space at large is often centered on the idea that space is above Earthly concerns.

  • But space is, and has always been, a reflection of Earth — the good and the bad.
  • In the 1970 spoken-word poem, Scott-Heron criticizes investment in space when Black people in the U.S. couldn’t afford health care.
  • Some of the lyrics: “A rat done bit my sister Nell. (with Whitey on the Moon) Her face and arm began to swell. (but Whitey’s on the Moon) Was all that money I made last year (for Whitey on the Moon?)”

What he’s saying: “Honestly, I started listening to [the poem] in the car to talk with my colleagues about it,” Glover tells me here at the National Space Symposium.