NASA on Monday announced the four astronauts — three Americans and one Canadian — who will lead the Artemis II mission to the moon next year, making them the first North American space team to fly towards the moon since 1972.
The four astronauts are:
- Mission Specialist Christina Koch, a participant of the first all-female space walk who began her career as an electrical engineer in NASA.
- Mission Specialist Jeremy Hansen, a former fighter pilot and member of the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). This will be his first mission in space.
- Pilot Victor Glover, a pilot for the SpaceX Crew-1 mission who has logged 3,000 flight hours in over 40 different aircraft. He will pilot the Orion around the moon.
- Mission Commander Reid Wiseman, chief of NASA astronauts who was previously a flight engineer living on the International Space Station in 2014.
The White House said President Joe Biden called the four astronauts on Sunday to congratulate them, adding that the mission was a cultural milestone since it will be the first lunar mission to include a woman and person of color as crew members.
— With Morgan Chalfant
The Artemis II mission will be the first crewed flight of the Artemis program and is scheduled for no earlier than November 2024.
During the 10-day mission, the four astronauts will travel around the moon — but not land on it — to test the Orion spaceship’s deep space exploration and life support capabilities. They will then head back to earth.
According to NASA, the test flight will pave the way for the agency to conduct future moon landings and bring the first woman and first person of color to the moon. But the ultimate goal is to start testing technology that could one day take a crewed mission to Mars.
Last year’s Artemis I mission was an unmanned test flight to check whether the Orion spaceship met safety requirements, such as withstanding the vacuum of space and re-entry to Earth’s atmosphere. The mission experienced a few technical bumps, but was deemed a success and safe for Artemis II.
The last time NASA astronauts flew back from the moon was for the Apollo 17 mission in December 1972.