NASA has revealed the crew for its next Artemis II mission, which will mark the first time in the history of our species that an astronaut of color and a female astronaut have ventured beyond low Earth orbit to visit lunar space.
It has been more than 50 years since the crew of Apollo 17 bid farewell to Earth’s moon. Since that last mission of the Apollo program, humanity has retreated to our homeworld, allowing pioneers of robotics to explore the wonders of the solar system while observing the relative safety of low Earth orbit.
But the next few decades could see a radical change in the status quo. NASA and its partners have decided that it is time again for humanity to walk on the surface of the Moon, and establish a permanent presence to test the technologies that will be needed for a future manned mission to Mars.
Artemis II: Meet the crew.
Earlier this week, NASA revealed the crew of four astronauts who will take the next steps in humanity’s exploration of the solar system when the 10-day Artemis II mission launches into lunar space in late 2024.
The mission will be led by Commander Reid Wiseman, who joined NASA’s 20th class of astronauts in 2009 after serving as a combat and test pilot for the US Air Force. Wiseman has since completed a 165-day mission aboard the International Space Station (ISS), during which he served as Expedition 41’s flight engineer, logging nearly 13 hours of spacewalks.
Meanwhile, Victor J. Glover, Jr. has been assigned to pilot NASA’s Orion capsule. Glover has accumulated more than 3,000 flight hours during his military career, during which he served as both a combat pilot and a test pilot, while completing a Master of Science degree in systems engineering. As a NASA astronaut, Glover was present for the second operational flight of the Crew Dragon spacecraft and served a tour of duty aboard the ISS as part of Expedition 64.
Christina Hammock Koch will occupy the third seat of the Orion capsule, as Mission Specialist 1 for the Artemis II mission. Koch worked in the remote field and in space science instrument development early in his career, creating instruments for the Juno and Van Allen spacecraft before completing astronaut training in 2015. Koch has since flown aboard a Russian-made Soyuz spacecraft and spent 328 days aboard the ISS. She holds the record for the longest spaceflight for a woman and participated in the first all-female spacewalk.
NASA’s Inaugural Launch of the Moon Rocket Space Launch System
Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen will serve as Mission Specialist 2 during the Artemis II mission. Hansen was a fighter pilot before completing his astronaut training in 2011, after which he served at NASA’s Mission Control Center as capcom support missions. This will be Hansen’s first trip to space.
While the crew of Artemis II will not have the honor of setting foot on the Moon, they will nonetheless achieve many historic firsts for mankind. First and foremost, it will see the first astronaut of color, Victor Glover, and the first female astronaut, Christina Hammock Koch, travel beyond low Earth orbit to visit lunar space.
Artemis II will also be the first crewed mission to use both the Orion capsule and NASA’s colossal Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. The 10-day sortie 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 bring humans back to the surface of Earth’s moon.
“The crew of Artemis II represents thousands of people working tirelessly to get us to the stars. This is their crew, this is our crew, this is the crew of humanity,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson in a statement posted on the agency’s website.
“NASA astronauts Reid Wiseman, Victor Glover and Christina Hammock Koch, and CSA astronaut Jeremy Hansen, each have their own story, but together they represent our credo: E pluribus unum – of many, one . Together, we usher in a new era of exploration for a new generation of star sailors and dreamers – the Artemis generation.
NASA recently unveiled the prototype of the next-generation spacesuit that will be used by astronauts walking on the lunar surface during the planned Artemis III mission. Be sure to stay with IGN to stay up to date with all the biggest news from the science world.
Anthony is a freelance contributor covering science and gaming news for IGN. He has over eight years of experience covering groundbreaking developments in multiple scientific fields and has absolutely no time for your shenanigans. Follow him on Twitter @BeardConGamer