Artemis II: The 4 astronauts NASA picked for moon mission

Artemis II: The 4 astronauts NASA picked for moon mission

(CNN) The astronauts who will lead the first crewed mission to the Moon in five decades were revealed Monday, lining up the quartet to begin training for the historic Artemis II lunar mission that will launch in November 2024.

The astronauts are Reid Wiseman of NASA, Victor Glover and Christina Koch and Jeremy Hansen of the Canadian Space Agency.

Wiseman is a 47-year-old decorated naval aviator and test pilot who was first selected as a NASA astronaut in 2009. A native of Baltimore, Maryland, he has completed one prior space flight, one trip 165-day stint on the International Space Station that launched aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket in 2014. Most recently, Wiseman served as chief of the astronaut office before leaving in November 2022, making him eligible for an assignment the flight.

Wiseman will serve as Artemis II mission commander.

Hansen, 47, is a fighter pilot who was selected by the Canadian Space Agency for astronaut training in 2009. From London, Ontario, Hansen is one of only four active Canadian astronauts and he recently became the first Canadian to be put in charge of training a new class of NASA astronauts.

He will be the first Canadian to travel in deep space.

Glover is a 46-year-old naval aviator who returned to Earth from his first space flight in 2021 after piloting the second crewed flight of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft and spending nearly six months aboard the International Space Station .

“It’s a lot more than the four names that have been announced,” Glover said during Monday’s announcement at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “We should celebrate this moment in human history… It’s the next step in the journey that will take humanity to Mars.”

Glover, born in Pomona, California, served in several military squadrons in the United States and Japan in the 2000s, and he completed test pilot training with the US Air Force. When he was selected for the NASA astronaut corps in 2013, he was working in the US Senate as a legislator. All told, Glover logged 3,000 flight hours in more than 40 aircraft, over 400 carrier-arrested landings, and 24 combat missions.

Glover’s first space mission was as part of the SpaceX Crew-1 team, which launched to the International Space Station in November 2020 for a six-month stay at the orbiting laboratory.

Koch, 44, is a veteran of six spacewalks — including the first female spacewalk in 2019. She holds the record for the longest spaceflight by a woman, with a total of 328 days in space. Koch is also an electrical engineer who helped develop scientific instruments for numerous NASA missions. Koch, a native of Grand Rapids, Michigan, also spent a year at the South Pole, an arduous stint that could prepare her for the intensity of a moon mission.

About this mission

The Artemis II mission will build on Artemis I, an uncrewed test mission that sent NASA’s Orion capsule on a 1.4 million-mile journey to orbit the moon that ended in December. The space agency deemed that mission a success and is still working to review all the data collected.

Artemis II lunar mission crew members include (from left): NASA astronauts Christina Koch, Victor Glover, Reid Wiseman (foreground) and Canadian Space Agency astronaut Jeremy Hansen.

If all goes according to plan, Artemis II will lift off around November 2024. Crew members, strapped inside the Orion spacecraft, will launch atop a NASA-developed Space Launch System rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center- s in Florida.

The trip is expected to last about 10 days and will send the crew beyond the Moon, potentially farther than any humans have traveled in history, although the exact distance has yet to be determined.

“The exact distance past the Moon will depend on the day of liftoff and the relative distance of the Moon from Earth at the time of the mission,” NASA spokeswoman Kathryn Hambleton said via email.

After orbiting the Moon, the spacecraft will return to Earth for a landing in the Pacific Ocean.

Artemis II is expected to pave the way for the Artemis III mission later this decade, which NASA has pledged will put the first black woman and person on the lunar surface. It will also mark the first time humans have touched the Moon since the end of the Apollo program in 1972.

The Artemis III mission is expected to launch at the end of this decade. But much of the technology the mission will require, including spacesuits to walk on the moon and a lunar lander to transport astronauts to the moon’s surface, is still under development.

NASA is aiming for a 2025 launch date for Artemis III, although the space agency’s inspector general has already said delays are likely to push the mission to 2026 or later.

The space agency has sought to return humans to the moon for more than a decade. The Artemis program was designed to pave the way for a permanent lunar outpost, allowing astronauts to live and work deeper in space long-term, while NASA and its partners chart a path to sending the first humans to space. March.

Selection of astronauts

Vanessa Wyche, director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, declined to provide details to CNN about the selection process. But she emphasized the diversity of the Artemis II crew, which includes both men and women and not just a staff of white male test pilots, as has been the case for past historic missions.

“I can tell you, they still all have the right stuff,” Wyche said. “We have different requirements than we had (when) we just had test pilots” on the inaugural missions.

Koch said in an interview with CNN’s Ed Lavandera that the group found out they had been selected a few weeks ago.

“We were all sent to a meeting that was on our calendars under another pretext that didn’t seem as high-profile as it was going to be,” Koch said. “And two of us happened to be very late to that meeting.”

She said the offer left her “speechless”.

“It’s really an honor,” she added. “It’s an honor – not to get into space – but because it’s amazing to be part of this team that’s going back to the moon and to Mars.”

An interview with the four astronauts will air on “CNN This Morning” Tuesday, beginning at 6 a.m. ET.

CNN’s Kristin Fisher contributed to this story.

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