Nasa names diverse crew for Artemis II Moon mission
Image credit: NASA/James Blair
Nasa has selected the four astronauts that will travel to the Moon in 2024, taking part in the first crewed lunar mission in over 50 years.
The US space agency Nasa has named the four astronauts who will take humanity back to the Moon, including the first woman and the first person of colour to be assigned to a lunar mission.
The astronauts won't land on the Moon. Instead, they will take Nasa's Orion capsule on a 10-day journey around the Earth's only natural satellite, to test the spaceship's life-support systems. If successful, the mission could pave the way for a new Moon landing, as well as future exploratory missions to Mars, as part of Nasa's Artemis programme.
“The Artemis II crew represents thousands of people working tirelessly to bring us to the stars," said Nasa administrator Bill Nelson. "This is their crew; this is our crew; this is humanity's crew.”
The members of the crew are Nasa astronauts Reid Wiseman, Victor Glover and Christina Hammock Koch, plus Canadian Space Agency (CSA) astronaut Jeremy Hansen. The four of them were described as the first members of the "Artemis generation".
Nasa successfully launched its Artemis spacecraft last year as part of a mission to take humans back to the Moon. The agency has also revealed its hopes of landing humans on Mars, the Red Planet, sometime in the 2030s as part of its 'Moon to Mars' programme.
However, before humans can walk on the Moon, the agency is looking to test the capabilities of its new technology, in a mission parallel to that carried out by Apollo 8 in 1968.
The two agencies revealed the crew members that will take part in the Artemis II mission during an event at Ellington Field near Nasa’s Johnson Space Centre in Houston. The four astronauts will be the first to fly Nasa’s Orion capsule.
“This is a big day," said Glover. "We have a lot to celebrate and it’s so much more than the four names that have been announced.”
Christina Koch added: "Are you excited? I asked that because the one thing I'm most excited about is that we are going to carry your excitement, your aspirations, your dreams with us, on this mission, Artemis-2 - your mission."
Koch will become the first woman astronaut assigned to a lunar mission, while Glover will be the first black astronaut on one. Both of them have travelled to the International Space Station in the past and Koch currently holds the world record for the longest spaceflight by a woman.
During the mission, Wiseman will be the commander, Glover the pilot and Koch and Hansen will act as supporting "mission specialists". It will be Hansen's first time in space.
“For the first time in more than 50 years, these individuals – the Artemis II crew – will be the first humans to fly to the vicinity of the Moon," said Vanessa Wyche, director of Nasa's Johnson Space Centre. "Among the crew are the first woman, first person of colour, and first Canadian on a lunar mission, and all four astronauts will represent the best of humanity as they explore for the benefit of all.
“This mission paves the way for the expansion of human deep space exploration and presents new opportunities for scientific discoveries, commercial, industry and academic partnerships and the Artemis Generation.”
The UK is part of the Artemis programme, making contributions to the Lunar Gateway – a space station currently in development with the European Space Agency – working alongside the US, Europe, Canada and Japan. The nations have together developed the Artemis Accords, a set of principles to ensure a shared understanding of safe operations, use of space resources, minimising space debris and sharing scientific data.
Earlier this year, Nasa unveiled the new next-generation spacesuits that will be worn by astronauts travelling to the Moon in the Artemis missions.
The four astronauts will now begin a period of intense training to get themselves ready for the lunar mission, scheduled for late 2024 or early 2025.
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