NASA has named the four astronauts who will orbit the moon late next year, including the first woman and African-American to be assigned to a lunar mission.
The first crew to go to the moon in 50 years was introduced at a ceremony in Houston, which is home to both the country’s astronauts and Mission Control. The crew consisted of three Americans and one Canadian.
Bill Nelson, who runs NASA, said, “This is humanity’s crew.”
The four astronauts will be the first people to fly in NASA’s Orion capsule. They will leave from Kennedy Space Center on a Space Launch System rocket no sooner than late 2024. They won’t touch down or even enter lunar orbit; instead, they’ll circle the moon and return to Earth in preparation for two more astronauts to land on the moon the following year.
Reid Wiseman, the mission’s commander, will be joined by veteran astronaut Christina Koch, who currently holds the record for the longest spaceflight by a woman, and veteran fighter pilot Jeremy Hansen of Canada, who will be the crew’s lone space rookie. Three people have lived on the International Space Station: Wiseman, Glover, and Koch. They are all in their forties.
“This is a big day. We have a lot to celebrate, and it’s so much more than the four names that have been announced,” Glover said.
This is the first time someone from outside the U.S. has been on a moon crew. It is also the first crew in NASA’s new moon program to be named Artemis, after Apollo’s twin sister in Greek mythology. A practice mission to the moon and back in an empty Orion capsule was successfully completed late last year.
“Am I excited? Absolutely,” Koch said, and the crowd of school kids, politicians, and other people cheered. “But my real question is: ‘Are you excited?’” she asked to more cheers.
The Canadian Space Agency got a seat because it gave NASA and the International Space Station big robotic arms. The moon project also has plans for one.
Hansen said that he is glad Canada is on the flight.
“We’re all going to the moon. Let’s go! “he said.
During Apollo, from 1968 to 1972, NASA sent 24 astronauts to the moon. Twelve of them touched down. All of them were military-trained male test pilots, except for Harrison Schmitt, who was a geologist and flew on Apollo 17. He and the late Gene Cernan were the last people to land on the moon.
NASA hopes to put two people on the moon by 2025 or so if this next 10-day moonshot goes well.
NASA chose its first Artemis crew from 41 active astronauts. Canada had four candidates. Almost all of them took part in the ceremony on Monday at Johnson Space Center’s Ellington Field. It was kind of like a pep rally, and Wiseman led the crowd in a chant at the end.
On Sunday, President Joe Biden talked with the families of the four astronauts. Biden said in a tweet on Monday that the mission “will inspire the next generation of explorers and show every child – in America, in Canada, and across the world – that if they can dream it, they can be it.”