NASA has made history by announcing the names of the four astronauts who will fly around the moon on the Artemis II mission, scheduled for late 2024. This will be the first crewed lunar mission since Apollo 17 in 1972, and the first time that a woman and a person of color will venture beyond low Earth orbit.
The Artemis II crew consists of:
– Reid Wiseman, commander: A Navy captain and former chief astronaut who has flown to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2014 and spent 165 days in orbit. He will be the 10th person to command a moon mission.
– Victor Glover, pilot: A Navy captain and test pilot who has flown to the ISS on the first operational SpaceX Crew Dragon mission in 2021-22 and spent 168 days in orbit. He will be the first African American to fly to the moon.
– Christina Koch, mission specialist: An electrical engineer and veteran spacewalker who has spent nearly a year on the ISS in 2019-20 and performed six spacewalks, including three all-female ones. She will be the first woman to fly to the moon.
– Jeremy Hansen, mission specialist: A Canadian Space Agency (CSA) astronaut and former fighter pilot who will be making his first space flight. He will be the first non-American and the second Canadian to fly to the moon, after Chris Hadfield.
The crew was introduced by NASA Administrator Bill Nelson at a special event at Ellington Field near Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, on Monday (April 3). The event was attended by almost all of the active astronauts, NASA officials, engineers, media representatives, and family members of the crew.
“Artemis II is more than a mission to the moon and back,” Glover said at the event. “It’s more than a mission that has to happen before we send people to the surface of the moon. It is the next step on the journey that gets humanity to Mars. … And this crew will never forget that.”
The Artemis II mission will launch from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on board an Orion spacecraft atop a Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, both of which will fly with astronauts for the first time. The mission will last about 10 days and will not land or orbit the moon, but instead follow a free return trajectory that will take them about 4,600 miles (7,400 kilometers) above the lunar surface before slingshotting back to Earth.
The mission will test the performance of Orion and SLS, as well as demonstrate critical technologies and capabilities for future lunar exploration. It will also pave the way for Artemis III, which aims to land two astronauts on the moon’s south pole in 2025-26.
NASA’s Artemis program is part of its broader vision to establish a sustainable human presence on and around the moon by the end of this decade, and use it as a proving ground for future missions to Mars. The program is named after Artemis, the twin sister of Apollo and goddess of the moon in Greek mythology.
The Artemis II crew represents a diverse and talented group of explorers who will make history by becoming the first people to fly to the moon in more than half a century. They are also an inspiration for millions of people around the world who dream of exploring space.
We wish them all the best and look forward to following their journey!