NASA Names Crew for Historic Artemis II Mission to Orbit the Moon
NASA has named its crew for the Artemis II mission, which is set to launch in 2024 and become the first crewed mission to orbit the Moon in over 50 years. The mission will be led by Commander Reid Wiseman, who will be joined by pilot Victor Glover, mission specialist Jeremy Hansen, and Christina Koch, who will be the first woman and the first person of color to visit Earth's satellite. The 10-day mission will be used to test the capabilities of the Orion capsule and its European-made service module ahead of the Artemis III mission, which will finally return humans to the surface of Earth's Moon.
Artemis II will also be the first crewed mission to make use of both the Orion capsule and NASA's colossal Space Launch System (SLS) Moon rocket. The crew will not land on the Moon but will swing around the celestial body, testing the performance of the Orion spacecraft, before returning to Earth. The mission will be challenging and test the limits of the crew as they prepare to put future astronauts on the Moon.
The Artemis II crew represents exactly what an astronaut corps should be: a mix of highly capable and accomplished individuals with the skills and determination to take on any trial as a team, according to Director of Flight Operations Norm Knight, of NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.
The mission is part of NASA's efforts to return to the Moon, and the crew has been selected based on their expertise and experience. Wiseman joined NASA's 20th astronaut class in 2009 after serving as a combat and test pilot for the U.S. Air Force. He has since completed a 165-day mission aboard the International Space Station (ISS), during which he served as Expedition 41's flight engineer, clocking up almost 13 hours of spacewalks.
Koch, a veteran of space flight, was selected as a NASA astronaut in 2013 and previously served as flight engineer on the International ISS for Expedition 59, 60, and 61. She holds the record for the longest spaceflight by a woman and also took part in the first all-female spacewalk.
Glover became a NASA astronaut in 2013 and flew as the pilot of SpaceX's first operational crewed spaceflight (Crew-1) and logged 167 days on the ISS in 2021. He was the first Black astronaut to serve on a space station crew.
Hansen was selected by the Canadian Space Agency to become an astronaut in 2009 and will be the first Canadian to venture to the Moon. His seat on Artemis II is part of the “Canada-U.S. Gateway Treaty,” an agreement between NASA and CSA that will see the latter 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 another indication that planning and preparations for the launch of the lunar flyby mission are well underway. The launch is still forecast for no earlier than the end of 2024, and assembly and testing of the Artemis II flight hardware is closer to the end than the beginning.
As the launch nears, the crew will spend time inside their Orion spacecraft, getting familiar with their home away from home and evaluating the countdown schedule for getting strapped in Orion after their Space Launch System (SLS) rocket's propellants are loaded for flight. The crew will also undergo training sessions both with the astronauts alone and, as the launch nears, integrated with the mission control team that will monitor the mission from the ground.
The Artemis II crew represents humanity's crew and is ready to face every challenge that comes their way, according to NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. The mission will kickstart humanity's journeys to the Moon and beyond and test the limits of our capabilities as we prepare to explore space.
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