NASA believes that their moon missions are crucial to their human spaceflight program and not just a repeat of the Apollo missions. These missions will prepare astronauts for Mars, and encourage the development of a profitable industry for transporting payloads to the moon.
NASA has selected three astronauts from its active roster of 41 for the Artemis II mission, with a fourth astronaut chosen from the Canadian Space Agency. Some NASA astronauts were ineligible due to their assignment on the International Space Station or upcoming missions.
However, they, along with future candidates, could be considered for Artemis III, where two astronauts will land on the moon. Artemis III is scheduled for 2025 or later.
In December 1972, NASA last sent astronauts to the moon as part of Apollo 17. Discussions on a return to the moon continued and under the Trump administration, the Artemis program was initiated. In November 2021, NASA launched Artemis I, an uncrewed test mission.
This set the stage for Artemis II, the first crewed mission to the moon which launched in November 2024. After testing Orion’s systems, the spacecraft headed towards the moon using its gravity before splashing down in the Pacific Ocean, completing the mission in about 10 days.
NASA has announced a four-astronaut crew that will embark on a lunar mission within the next two years. The team includes three NASA astronauts – Victor Glover, Christina Koch, and Reid Wiseman – along with Jeremy Hansen from the Canadian Space Agency. The mission will involve orbiting the moon and returning in a 10-day period. The crew of three Americans and one Canadian will be the first humans to fly toward the moon in more than 50 years.
G. Reid Wiseman, Commander:
G. Reid Wiseman, formerly NASA’s chief astronaut, will now be one of the four astronauts embarking on the moon-bound Artemis II mission. A captain in the U.S. Navy and member of the 2009 astronaut class, Wiseman spent 165 days in orbit at the International Space Station in 2014 after two deployments in the Middle East. Talk about an impressive resume!
Victor J. Glover, Pilot
Victor J. Glover, Jr., a captain in the U.S. Navy and astronaut who made history as the first Black man to serve as a crew member on the International Space Station. During his 168-day stay, he piloted SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule and participated in four spacewalks.
With a bachelor’s degree in general engineering and three master’s degrees in various fields, he’s definitely one smart cookie. And if you ever hear someone refer to him as “Ike,” it’s because of a call sign given to him by a former commanding officer that stands for “I know everything.”
Christina H. Koch, Mission Specialist
Christina H. Koch holds the record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman, spending 328 days in space. She also performed the first three all-women spacewalks and conducted a total of six spacewalks. Before becoming an astronaut, she worked as an electrical engineer at NASA and also spent time in Antarctica and American Samoa as a researcher.
Jeremy Hansen, Mission Specialist
Jeremy Hansen, one of Canada’s active astronauts, has yet to fly to space, but he’s had an important role as a communicator between mission control and astronauts aboard the International Space Station. He was the first Canadian chosen to lead an astronaut class, and his military experience as a fighter pilot has prepared him for future missions.
THE EVENT PROCEESDINGS:
- Joe Acaba, chief of the astronaut office, and Norm Knight, director of the flight operations directorate, served as emcees at a ceremony. The entire astronaut corps, except for those currently in orbit, crossed the stage in blue jumpsuits to handshakes, hugs, and high-fives.
- It was noted that the crew selected for the Artemis II mission was not being hidden backstage and was mixed in with the rest of the astronaut corps. Mr. Acaba emphasized that the selected crew was not excluded from the event and was treated the same as the other astronauts.
- François-Philippe Champagne, Canada’s space agency minister, highlighted the country’s collaboration in the Artemis program, emphasizing the strong partnership between Canada and the U.S. He expressed excitement about returning to the moon 50 years after the end of the Apollo missions.
- Mr. Champagne shared a story about how he had witnessed the impact of astronauts on young people, saying “I saw the power of the blue suit” and went on to commend Jeremy Hansen for inspiring both the Canadian people and humanity as a whole.
- He also wished him success by saying, “To you Jeremy, go Canada!”. During the ceremony, Mr. Knight praised Reid Wiseman, telling him that “it’s what you were meant to be”, and complimented Christina Koch’s determination, saying “your relentless drive is unmatched”.
- The enthusiasm was palpable as Ms. Koch couldn’t contain her excitement, exclaiming “Am I excited? Absolutely!” Meanwhile, Mr. Hansen gave a heartfelt thank you to the United States for their partnership, acknowledging that all of Canada is grateful.
- The atmosphere was electric as Mr. Wiseman, commander of Artemis II, took the microphone to introduce the pilot, Victor Glover, and declared that it was a momentous day to celebrate. Mr. Glover echoed the sentiment, comparing spaceflight to a relay race, with each crew passing the baton to the next in this incredible journey.
- After concluding the event, Mr. Wiseman urged the crowd to chant the Artemis II crew’s mantra by saying, “We are going!”
- The Canadian Space Agency tweeted a message congratulating Jeremy Hansen for being selected to join the crew and added that his trailblazing is a source of inspiration for everyone.
- Ms. Koch, expressing her appreciation, mentioned that they will carry the audience’s enthusiasm, aspirations, and dreams with them on the mission. It was a thrilling moment as the crowd cheered and applauded the crew, wishing them all the best in their journey to space.
HOW DIFFICULT IS IT TO BECOME A NASA ASTRONAUT?
It is easier to get into an Ivy League university than to become a NASA astronaut. In the latest selection round, NASA chose just 10 people out of over 12,000 applicants – a rejection rate of more than 99.9%. Currently, there are 41 active astronauts at NASA who are eligible to fly into space. Four of them will travel to the moon during the Artemis II mission, but the selection process is complicated.
Even the head of the astronaut office and their deputy are not allowed to choose themselves for the mission. Some astronauts might be happy they weren’t selected for Artemis II, as they could still be chosen for the historic first moon landing during Artemis III.