NASA has revealed the crew for its upcoming Artemis II mission, a groundbreaking lunar flight that will include a diverse team of astronauts.
Scheduled for 2024, this will be the first manned moon mission in more than 50 years and will feature the first female astronaut, the first person of color, and the first Canadian astronaut assigned to a lunar mission. Vanessa Wyche, director of the Johnson Space Center, highlighted that the mission will not only mark a historic moment in space exploration but will also create new opportunities for scientific discoveries, commercial industry, and academic partnerships.
The Artemis II crew consists of three experienced American astronauts, Reid Wiseman, Victor Glover, and Christina Hammock Koch, and Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen. Koch holds the record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman and has participated in the first all-female spacewalks. Glover, a former legislative fellow in the US Senate, will become the first person of color to join a moon mission. Wiseman has served as a flight engineer on the International Space Station, spending 165 days in orbit. Hansen, a former fighter pilot and colonel in the Canadian Armed Forces, will embark on his first space journey.
The team is expected to travel more than 2.2 million kilometers (1.4 million miles) around the moon, marking the closest lunar approach since the Apollo 17 mission. While the Artemis II mission will not include a moonwalk, it will take the crew 370,000 kilometers (230,000 miles) beyond Earth’s surface, a significant departure from recent decades of low-Earth orbit exploration. During their time in space, the astronauts will demonstrate maneuvers and test the life-support systems aboard the partially reusable Orion spacecraft, designed for manned flight.
If the Artemis II mission proves successful, NASA plans to launch a third mission, Artemis III, which will include a moon landing. This mission is also expected to feature a female astronaut and an astronaut of color. The Artemis program is a joint initiative between American, Canadian, Japanese, and European aerospace agencies, with the first unmanned mission having taken place in November 2022.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson stated that the Artemis II crew represents thousands of people working to bring humans to the stars and is ushering in a new era of exploration for the Artemis Generation. Lessons learned from the upcoming Artemis flights will help the agency prepare for its next significant goal: sending the first astronauts to Mars.