NASA's First Moon Crew in 50 Years Has 3 Big Firsts

Artemis team includes Black, female, Canadian astronauts
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 3, 2023 1:50 PM CDT
NASA's First Moon Crew in 50 Years Has 3 Big Firsts
This photo provided by NASA shows, from left, NASA Astronauts Christina Koch, Victor Glover, Reid Wiseman, and Canadian Space Agency Astronaut Jeremy Hansen at the Johnson Space Center in Houston on March 29, 2023.   (Josh Valcarcel/NASA via AP)

NASA on Monday named the four astronauts who will fly to the moon by the end of next year, including one woman and three men. The three Americans and one Canadian were introduced during a ceremony in Houston, home to the nation's astronauts as well as Mission Control, the AP reports. "This is humanity's crew," said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. The four astronauts will be the first to fly NASA's Orion capsule, launching atop a Space Launch System rocket from Kennedy Space Center no earlier than late 2024. They will not land or even go into lunar orbit, but rather fly around the moon and head straight back to Earth, a prelude to a lunar landing by two others a year later.

The mission's commander, Reid Wiseman, will be joined by Victor Glover, an African American naval aviator; Christina Koch, who holds the world record for the longest spaceflight by a woman; and Canada's Jeremy Hansen. All are space veterans except Hansen. "This is a big day. We have a lot to celebrate and it’s so much more than the four names that have been announced," said Glover, who will be the first Black astronaut on a lunar mission. This is also the first moon crew to include a woman and someone not from the US—and the first crew in NASA's new Artemis moon program. Late last year, an empty Orion capsule flew to the moon and back in a long-awaited dress rehearsal.

During Apollo, NASA sent 24 astronauts to the moon from 1968 through 1972. Twelve of them landed. All were military-trained test pilots except for Apollo 17's Harrison Schmitt, a geologist who closed out that moonlanding era alongside the late Gene Cernan. Provided this next 10-day moonshot goes well, NASA aims to land two astronauts on the moon by 2025 or so. NASA picked from 41 active astronauts for its first Artemis crew. Canada had four candidates.

(More moon stories.)

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