Nasa, the American space agency, has named the four astronauts who will return humanity to the Moon after a 50-year absence.
Christina Koch will be the first female astronaut to be sent on a lunar mission, and Victor Glover will be the first black astronaut to do so.
They will work alongside Reid Wiseman and Jeremy Hansen to launch a capsule around the Moon late next year or early in 2025.
The astronauts will not land on the Moon, but their mission will clear the groundwork for a following crew to do so.
At a ceremony in Houston, Texas, the three US citizens and one Canadian were introduced to the general public.
They will now start a period of rigorous training to get themselves ready.
By choosing a woman and a person of color, NASA is upholding its commitment to increase diversity in its exploration activities. White men only have ever completed crewed trips to the Moon.
Reid Wiseman (47), a pilot for the US Navy who once oversaw NASA’s astronaut division. He previously completed a flight to the International Space Station in 2015.
Victor Glover (46) is a test pilot for the United States Navy. He joined Nasa in 2013 and is scheduled to make his first mission in 2020. He was the first African American to spend more than six months on the space station.
Christina Koch (44) is a 44-year-old electrical engineer. She holds the record for the longest continuous period spent in space by a woman, at 328 days. In October 2019, she took part in the first all-female spacewalk with Nasa astronaut Jessica Meir.
Jeremy Hansen (47) was a fighter pilot with the Royal Canadian Air Force before joining the Canadian Space Agency. He has yet to take a space flight.
“The Artemis-2 crew is representative of thousands of people who have worked tirelessly to get us to the stars. This is their crew, our crew, and humanity’s crew “NASA Administrator Bill Nelson stated.
“NASA astronauts Reid Wiseman, Victor Glover, and Christina Hammock Koch, as well as Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen, each have their own stories to tell, but they all reflect our creed: E pluribus unum – out of many, one. We are ushering in a new period of exploration for the Artemis Generation, a new breed of star sailors and dreamers.”
Glover will be his pilot, Wiseman will be the commander, and Koch and Hansen will serve as the supporting “mission specialists.”
The group is effectively reenacting Apollo 8’s 1968 mission, which was the first human space mission to reach the Moon.
The famous “Earthrise” photograph was captured by its crew and showed our planet emerging from behind the lunar horizon.
This time, the main distinction will be the application of the cutting-edge technologies that NASA has created as part of its Artemis mission. Apollo’s twin sister, Artemis, was a figure in Greek mythology.
The Space Launch System, the agency’s next-generation Moon rocket, and the Orion crew capsule it is attached to underwent testing last year.
This Artemis-1 mission departed Earth on an unmanned, 25-day journey around the Moon. Engineers were now able to evaluate how well the hardware was prepared.
The newly named astronauts will now board the Orion spacecraft for Artemis-2 and a 10-day mission to and from the Moon.
Apollo 17, the penultimate human spaceflight mission to the Moon, took place in December 1972. Apollo 11 was the first to land in 1969.
The first landing of the new era, Artemis-3, is not planned to happen for at least a year after Artemis-2.
NASA does not currently have a mechanism capable of transporting astronauts to the lunar surface. SpaceX, the business founded by entrepreneur Elon Musk, is working on this.
The vehicle, dubbed Starship, is set to begin flight testing in the coming weeks.
“We must commemorate this moment in human history because Artemis-2 is more than a mission to the Moon and back; it is more than a mission that must occur before sending humans to the Moon’s surface. It is the next phase in the voyage that will take humanity to Mars “Victor Glover stated at the Houston event.
Christina Koch went on to say: “Are you pumped? I asked because I’m most excited about the fact that we’ll be carrying your excitement, hopes, and dreams with us on this trip, Artemis-2 – your mission.”
Vanessa Wyche is the director of NASA’s Johnson Space Flight Center, which serves as the mission control center. She stated:
“The first woman, the first person of color, and the first Canadian on a lunar mission are among the [Artemis-2] crew, and all four astronauts will symbolize the finest of humanity as they explore for the benefit of everyone.”
Artemis-2 is a planned mission by NASA under the Artemis program, which aims to land humans on the moon again by 2024 and establish sustainable exploration of the lunar surface. Artemis-2 is an uncrewed test flight of the Orion spacecraft, which will be launched on the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket.
The mission is currently scheduled to launch in 2024 and will be the second flight of the Orion spacecraft after its successful uncrewed test flight during Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT-1) in 2014. During Artemis-2, the spacecraft will carry out a series of complex maneuvers to test its performance and capabilities.
The primary objective of Artemis-2 is to perform a lunar flyby and return to Earth, while also testing the spacecraft’s life support systems and its ability to protect astronauts from the harsh space environment. The mission will also include several scientific experiments to gather data on radiation exposure, which will help NASA prepare for future manned missions to the moon and beyond.
Overall, Artemis-2 is a critical step towards the ultimate goal of landing humans on the moon again and establishing a sustainable presence there, as it will test and validate the spacecraft and systems needed for future manned missions.
Artemis-2 is a precursor mission to the first crewed mission, Artemis-3, which is currently planned for 2025. The successful completion of Artemis-2 will be a major milestone in NASA’s efforts to return humans to the moon, as it will demonstrate the capabilities of the Orion spacecraft and the SLS rocket to carry out deep space exploration missions.
During the Artemis-2 mission, the Orion spacecraft will be equipped with various scientific instruments, including radiation detectors and sensors to measure the temperature and pressure inside the spacecraft. These instruments will provide valuable data on the space environment, which will be crucial in designing future missions to the moon and beyond.
Another important objective of the Artemis program is to establish a sustainable presence on the moon, with the eventual goal of using the resources available on the moon to support human exploration of Mars and other destinations in the solar system. The data collected during the Artemis-2 mission will help NASA to develop strategies for using the resources available on the moon, such as water ice, to support future manned missions.
In summary, Artemis-2 is a critical step in NASA’s ambitious plans to return humans to the moon and establish a sustainable presence there. The mission will test and validate the spacecraft and systems needed for future manned missions, and provide valuable data on the space environment and the resources available on the moon.