OAN Brooke Mallory
UPDATED 6:28 PM – Monday, April 3, 2023
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) revealed on Monday that a team of four astronauts will launch on a crucial test voyage to slingshot around the moon next year, paving the way for the agency’s eagerly anticipated return to the lunar surface.
NASA Administrator James Bridenstine stated that the space agency would be making a trip back to the moon and that these efforts would officially be called the Artemis program. The name Artemis was chosen as a reference to the mythological Greek goddess and twin sister of Apollo.
The name also appeared on the space agency’s initial crafts during their lunar missions.
Many have questioned why it has taken NASA about 50 years to decide to go back. The last time a human set foot on the moon was in 1972.
“It was the political risks that prevented it from happening… The program took too long and it costs too much money,” Bridenstine said.
Their first lunar mission, Artemis I, launched last year in November. However, NASA’s massive Space Launch System rocket and Orion capsule were launched on an unmanned journey. Mannequins equipped with sensors were part of the first Artemis I flight and they were used to track radiation levels and mission conditions.
After spending a few weeks in lunar orbit, the spacecraft was finally brought back to Earth.
NASA announced the crew for its upcoming Artemis II voyage at a ceremony in Houston, Texas.
Christina Hammock Koch, Victor Glover, Reid Wiseman, and Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen will be the chosen NASA astronauts to embark on the voyage.
“The Artemis II crew represents thousands of people working tirelessly to bring us to the stars… This is their crew. This is our crew. This is humanity’s crew,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said.
The astronauts will fly in close proximity to the moon for the first time in more than 50 years. Additionally, they will be the first to launch NASA’s newest mega-rocket and Orion space capsule.
The crew will orbit the moon to evaluate the Orion spacecraft’s capabilities before heading back to Earth.
NASA stated that if this upcoming Artemis II mission is successful, the crew will historically comprise the first woman and person of color (POC) to ever set foot on the moon for their future missions.
“This mission paves the way for the expansion of human deep space exploration and presents new opportunities for scientific discoveries, commercial, industry and academic partnerships, and the Artemis Generation,” said Director Vanessa Wyche of NASA’s Johnson Space Center.
The flight of the Artemis II will be led by Wiseman. He was a test pilot for the U.S. Navy before being chosen in 2009 to join NASA as an astronaut. He was also a member of the Expedition 41 crew that launched to the International Space Station in 2014 for a 165-day mission.
Glover, a retired captain from the Navy, will be the one to fly the mission. He was chosen as an astronaut in 2013 and has since taken part in SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft’s second voyage to the space station.
Koch and Hansen will act as mission specialists. After spending a total of 328 days in orbit on board the space station, Koch, a female astronaut who joined in 2013, broke the record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman in 2020.
Hansen was selected by the Canadian Space Agency to join their crew of astronauts in 2009. This is where he would eventually be discovered by NASA and asked to join the American space agency’s efforts. As the first Canadian to visit the moon, the former fighter pilot will go down in lunar exploration history.
“We are going back to the moon and Canada is at the center of this exciting journey… Thanks to our longstanding collaboration with NASA, a Canadian astronaut will fly on this historic mission. On behalf of all Canadians, I want to congratulate Jeremy for being at the forefront of one of the most ambitious human endeavors ever undertaken. Canada’s participation in the Artemis program is not only a defining chapter of our history in space, but also a testament to the friendship and close partnership between our two nations,” said François-Philippe Champagne, the Canadian Space Agency minister.
With the Artemis missions, NASA says they will employ cutting-edge technologies to delve deeper than ever before into the lunar surface.
In cooperation with international and commercial partners, they claim that they will eventually establish the first permanent presence on the Moon.
Additionally, the next purported step would be to send the first astronauts to Mars next.
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