Four for the moon! NASA names Artemis 2 astronaut crew for 1st lunar mission since Apollo

The Artemis 2 team will make history by going to the moon for the 25th–28th time.

TEXAS CITY — After more than 50 years, NASA has selected its first astronaut team headed to the moon.

The four scientists who will travel on the Artemis 2 mission to orbit the moon were revealed by the space agency on Monday, April 3. After the Apollo mission, the team is anticipated to be the first to travel to the moon.

The mission experts Christina Koch and Jeremy Hansen are part of the Artemis 2 team, along with the commander Reid Wiseman and pilot Victor Glover. An arrangement between the United States and Canada allows Hansen, an astronaut with the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), to launch. He will launch from Earth orbit and travel to the moon first by a non-American.

The Artemis 2 crew was revealed on Monday at a gathering at Ellington Field, where NASA's aircraft activities are based close to Houston's Johnson Space Center. Nearly every active astronaut, minus the three who are presently onboard the International Space Station, attended the event with NASA Administrator Bill Nelson and other agency officials. (ISS).

Each of these intrepid travelers, Reid, Victor, Christina, and Jeremy, has a unique tale to tell. But taken as a whole, they stand for our motto, "E pluribus unum, out of many, one," Nelson said. "Together, we will usher in a new era of exploration for the Artemis Generation, a new generation of star sailors and dreamers."

Wiseman, Glover, Koch, and Hansen are scheduled to launch in late 2024 onboard NASA's Orion spacecraft atop an SLS missile from Pad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. After the unmanned Artemis 1 test flight in 2022, it will be only the second time that both the spacecraft and rocket will launch together. It will also be the first time that both will travel with humans on board.

The 10-day Artemis 2 mission will pursue a hybrid free return route rather than orbiting or touching down on the moon. In order to raise its orbit around the Earth and ultimately put the crew on a lunar free return route, Orion will use its European-built service module to execute a number of maneuvers. After passing by the moon, Earth's gravity will then draw the spacecraft back to Earth naturally.

The crew will try their manual control of Orion by using the top stage of the SLS—known as the intermediate cryogenic propulsion stage, or ICPS—as a target for proximity operations before departing Earth orbit for the moon.

Before departing for the moon, the team will try the spacecraft's life support, communication, and navigation devices. The Artemis 2 team will journey 6,400 miles (10,300 kilometers) beyond the far side of the moon and pass within 6,479 miles (10,427 kilometers) of the lunar surface. They will be able to see Earth and the moon from Orion's windows from this viewing position, farther into deep space than any person has ever ventured.

Orion will splash down in the Pacific Ocean off the shore of California at the conclusion of the Artemis 2 mission, where U.S. Navy ships and NASA crews will be waiting to meet and retrieve the crew and spacecraft. If the journey is successful, NASA will be prepared for Artemis 3, the first mission to bring people back to the lunar surface, with the first American woman and the second American scheduled to arrive at the moon's south pole as early as late 2025.

Now that the Artemis 2 crew has been chosen, NASA will start training classes with them individually as well as integrating them with the mission control team that will oversee the operation from the ground as the launch date approaches. The Artemis 2 SLS core stage's five main components were all integrated by engineers in March. At the Kennedy Space Center, where they are being readied for launch or are waiting to be piled as part of the launch vehicle, the Orion spacecraft, its European service module, the ICPS, and the SLS solid rocket components are already present.

The 41 NASA astronauts and 4 CSA astronauts who are currently in the active ranks were chosen to make up the four Artemis 2 crew members. The choice was made by Vanessa Wyche, director of the Johnson Space Center, Norm Knight, chief of the flight operations department, and Joe Acaba, chief of the astronaut office.

Three seasoned space travelers are part of the team, and one will be making his first flight for Artemis 2.

Wiseman, 47, flew to the ISS in 2014 and completed his first journey there, spending 165 days in Earth orbit. He was chosen in 2009 for NASA's 20th astronaut class. A native of Baltimore, Maryland, and veteran combat pilot for the U.S. Navy. Wiseman most recently held the position of director of NASA's astronaut program from 2020 to 2022(opens in new page).

We are going is one of the three phrases that we frequently repeat in the Artemis program, and I want everyone to utter it.

NASA hired Glover, 46, as an astronaut in 2013. He served as the captain of SpaceX's first operational crewed mission (Crew-1) and spent 167 days on the International Space Station in 2021. He is an engineer and a commander in the United States Navy. He was born in Pomona, California. The first Black scientist to work on a space station team was Glover.

Glover declared, "We have a lot to enjoy, and it goes far beyond the four identities that have been revealed. Because Artemis II is more than a journey to the moon and more than a task that must be completed before sending humans to the moon's surface, we should commemorate this significant moment in human history. It is the following stage of the expedition that brings people to Mars.

"Human spaceflight is like a relay run, with the baton being handed from crew member to crew member on the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Skylab, Apollo-Soyuz, Mir, space shuttle, International Space Station, private crew, and now the Artemis flights. And we are aware of our part in it. We will do our best to run a decent race to make you pleased when we have the honor of carrying that baton, he said.

Koch, 44, was reared in Jacksonville, North Carolina, but was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Koch, a member of NASA's 21st astronaut class chosen in 2013, established a mark for the single-longest journey by a woman onboard the International Space Station at 328 days. She also participated in the first-ever all-female spacewalk during that 2019 visit. Koch, a previous station director for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), is an engineer.

"My colleagues astronauts are aware that 'Are you excited?' is one of the frequently asked queries we receive. And I'll tell you, am I thrilled when I think about this mission? Without a doubt," Koch said. "I want to know, are you excited?"

In 2009, the 47-year-old Hansen was selected to join Canada's astronaut program. He was born in London, Ontario, and is a colonel in the Royal Canadian Air Force. Even though Artemis 2 will be Hansen's first trip to space, he previously worked as an aquanaut on the Aquarius undersea station and participated in the CAVES astronaut training program run by the European Space Agency in 2013.

Hansen's position on Artemis 2 is related to the "Canada-U.S. Gateway Treaty", a contract between NASA and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) under which the latter will be responsible for managing and running all of the external automation required to run the human-tended Gateway station, which is still being constructed in lunar orbit. The agreement also calls for a Canadian astronaut to join the team of a future Artemis mission and travel to the Gateway.

Two things about the fact that a Canadian is visiting the moon make me happy, said Hansen. "American leadership is the first. None of us are unaware that the United States could decide to return to the moon on its own. But over the years, America has made a very conscious decision to build a worldwide team, and that, in my opinion, is real leadership.

He added, "Canada's can-do mentality is the second factor.

There are presently at least two other crewed lunar missions in development, despite the fact that the Artemis 2 crew is NASA's first moon crew revealed in more than 50 years and is anticipated to be the next to travel there. Two privately financed spaceflights to orbit the moon using SpaceX's Starship spaceship, which is currently in construction, have been scheduled. SpaceX is NASA's collaborator for the Artemis 3 human landing system (HLS or lunar lander).

Yusaku Maezawa, a Japanese millionaire, is funding the dearMoon initiative, which selected its eight artists in December 2022. Dennis Tito, an investor from the United States and the first "space tourist," announced his and his wife's plans to ride on SpaceX's second circumlunar trip two months previously.Both missions' schedules are still being prepared.

Wiseman, Glover, Koch, and Hansen would be the 25th through 28th people to travel to the moon if Artemis 2 launched first. The Apollo 8 team, consisting of Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and William Anders, was the first group of men to set foot on the moon in 1968.

NASA hopes that the Artemis mission will result in a long-lasting human presence on and near the moon where astronauts can gain the knowledge and skills necessary to transport humans to Mars.