NASA Announces Crew for Artemis II, First Crewed Mission to Orbit the Moon in 50 Years
NASA has announced the crew for Artemis II, the first crewed mission to orbit the moon in over 50 years. The mission is part of NASA's plan to establish a long-term presence on the moon for scientific exploration. The crew of four will include commander Reid Wiseman, pilot Victor Glover, mission specialist Jeremy Hansen, and astronaut Christina Koch, who will become the first woman and person of colour to visit Earth's satellite.
The Artemis II mission will last for ten days and will culminate in a flyby of the moon, making the crew the first people to leave Earth's immediate vicinity and be the first near the moon in over half a century. Although the crew will not land on the moon, the mission is a stepping stone for NASA's ultimate goal of sending humans to Mars.
Koch, a veteran of six spacewalks and an electrical engineer, previously spent 328 days aboard the International Space Station, setting a record for the longest spaceflight by a woman. She also participated in the first all-female spacewalk during her time at the station.
Wiseman, a decorated naval aviator and test pilot, was selected to be a NASA astronaut in 2009 and served as chief of NASA's astronaut office until 2022. Glover, a U.S. Navy captain and engineer, flew as pilot of SpaceX's first operational crewed spaceflight and was the first Black astronaut to live and work on the International Space Station for a long-duration expedition.
Hansen, a former fighter pilot for the Canadian Armed Forces, will be the first Canadian to explore beyond Earth's orbit. His seat on Artemis II is part of the “Canada-U.S. Gateway Treaty,” an agreement between NASA and the Canadian Space Agency that will see Canada oversee and operate all of the external robotics needed to operate the human-tended Gateway platform still to be built in lunar orbit.
The Artemis II mission is the first set of missions that NASA has used to send a crew to the moon since the Apollo 17 mission in December 1972, more than 50 years ago. The mission is part of NASA's Artemis program, which aims to land the first woman and person of colour on the moon by 2024.
Once the crew completes their testing in Earth orbit, the Orion spacecraft's service module engine will propel the capsule and its four-person crew toward the moon. The spacecraft will arc out to a distance of 4,600 miles beyond the far side of the moon, farther from Earth than any humans have ever traveled into space.
The announcement of the Artemis II crew marks a significant step forward in NASA's plans for lunar exploration and human spaceflight. It also highlights the agency's commitment to diversity and inclusion in its astronaut corps, with Koch and Glover making history as the first woman and Black astronaut, respectively, to be part of a moon mission. The Artemis II mission will pave the way for further exploration of the moon and, ultimately, human missions to Mars.
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