The next phase of NASA’s return-to-the-Moon program is underway, with the space agency naming the four-person Artemis 2 crew who will fly around the Moon and back.
In 1972, NASA astronauts Eugene Cernan, Ronald Evans, and Harrison Schmitt visited the Moon as part of the Apollo 17 mission. No human has been back since, but we now know the names of the four astronauts who will finally revisit the lunar environment, hopefully late next year.
NASA’s big reveal
Today’s event took place at Johnson Space Centre’s Ellington Field in Houston, Texas. NASA’s entire astronaut corp was present for the crew unveiling, as were a number of politicians, including François-Philippe Champagne, Canada’s very energetic minister of innovation, science, and industry. NASA administrator Bill Nelson did the honours of introducing the four chosen astronauts.
NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman will serve as the Artemis 2 commander. He’s been to space before, having served as flight engineer for Expedition 41 in 2014, when he stayed on board the International Space Station for 165 days. Wiseman, a decorated fighter pilot, joined the NASA astronaut corp in June 2009.
Reid Wiseman on the International Space Station
During his stint aboard the ISS, Wiseman and his crewmates performed a record 82 hours of research in one week, doing work in such areas as medicine, human physiology, Earth science, and astrophysics. He also accumulated nearly 13 hours of spacewalking experience.
Reid Wiseman’s journey to the Moon
The Baltimore-born Artemis 2 mission commander was previously chief of NASA’s astronaut office. For Artemis 2, he and his three crew members will buckle up inside Orion and travel around the Moon and back for a 10-day journey. The mission will serve as a critical test of key technologies needed for the Artemis 3 mission, in which two astronauts will walk on the lunar service.
Christina Koch, Artemis 2 mission specialist, will make history by being the first woman to venture beyond Earth orbit and visit the lunar environment. A native of Grand Rapids, she will bring her knowledge of electrical engineering to the mission, along with her extensive experience working in space.
Christina Koch holds a longest spaceflight record
Koch became an astronaut in 2013 and served as the flight engineer on ISS Expeditions 59, 60, and 61 from February 2019 to December 2019. She holds the current record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman, which stands at 328 days. Koch also done research work in Antarctica and Greenland.
Christina Koch on the International Space Station
Koch also made history by participating in the first all-women spacewalk, which she did in October 2019 with NASA astronaut Jessica Meir. She’s clearly no stranger to space, and along with her technical and science background, is an excellent choice for the Artemis 2 mission, slated for November 2024. “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,” Koch said during NASA’s announcement event on Monday.
California native Victor Glover will serve as Artemis 2 pilot and will become the first person of colour to travel beyond Earth orbit. Artemis 2 will be Glover’s second stint in space, his first being a trek to the ISS during the SpaceX Crew-1 mission in November 2020.
Victor Glover on the International Space Station
Glover holds degrees in general engineering, flight test engineering, systems engineering, and military operational art. A Navy pilot, Glover has been stationed in the United States and Japan, both for combat and peacetime operations. During Expedition 64/65, Glover participated in three spacewalks, including a stint to repair a broken ISS camera.
Glover, the father of four children, became a NASA astronaut in 2013. The space agency promised that Artemis would include more diversity, and with the inclusion of Glover and Koch, NASA is staying true to its word. For the sequel to Artemis 2, Artemis 3, NASA has promised that a woman and a person of colour will be chosen to walk on the Moon.
Jeremy Hansen will serve an Artemis 2 mission specialist. The Canadian fighter pilot became a Canadian Space Agency astronaut in 2009 and is currently one of only four active Canadian astronauts.
Jeremy Hansen, Canadian astronaut
Hansen is a current crew member of NEEMO 19 — an underwater habitat off Key Largo, Florida, where astronauts train for deep space exploration. His education is in physics, with a focus on satellite imaging technology. By sending Hansen to the Moon, Canada will become just the second country to send an astronaut beyond Earth orbit.
NASA’s Artemis 2 crew
The Artemis 2 crew is set. We must now wait patiently for the mission to blast off. The plan is for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket to deliver the Orion spacecraft on a trajectory to the Moon sometime in late 2024. The Artemis program has been wonderful so far, and now we can finally put some faces to the name.
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