Trip to Moon to Include International Astronaut

NASA plan calls for mission to take place this decade
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 20, 2023 6:40 PM CST
International Astronaut to Join NASA Crew on Moon
Artemis II crew members, from left, Reid Wiseman, Victor Glover, Christina Hammock Koch, and Jeremy Hansen speak to members of the media outside the West Wing of the White House on Thursday after meeting with President Biden.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

An international astronaut will join US astronauts on the moon by decade's end under an agreement announced Wednesday by NASA and the White House. The news came as Vice President Kamala Harris convened a meeting in Washington of the National Space Council, the third such gathering under the Biden administration. There was no mention of who the international moonwalker might be or even what country would be represented. A NASA spokeswoman later said that crews would be assigned closer to the lunar-landing missions, and that no commitments had yet been made to another country, the AP reports.

NASA has included international astronauts on trips to space for decades. Canadian Jeremy Hansen will fly around the moon a year or so from now with three US astronauts. Another crew would actually land; it would be the first lunar touchdown by astronauts in more than a half-century. That's not likely to occur before 2027, according to the US Government Accountability Office. All 12 moonwalkers during NASA's Apollo program of the 1960s and 1970s were US citizens. The space agency's new moon exploration program is named Artemis after Apollo's mythological twin sister. Including international partners "is not only sincerely appreciated, but it is urgently needed in the world today," Hansen told the council.

NASA has long stressed the need for global cooperation in space, establishing the Artemis Accords along with the State Department in 2020 to promote responsible behavior not just at the moon but everywhere in space, per the AP. Representatives of all 33 countries that have signed the accords so far were expected at the space council's meeting in Washington. "We know from experience that collaboration on space delivers," said Secretary of State Antony Blinken, citing the Webb Space Telescope, a US, European, and Canadian effort. Notably missing from the Artemis Accords: Russia and China, the only countries besides the US to launch their own citizens into orbit.

(More NASA stories.)

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