• NASA just announced the crew of the Artemis II mission.
  • This will be the first crewed mission to the Moon in over 50 years.
  • The crew includes the first woman and first person of color on a lunar mission.

Meet the Artemis II flyby mission to the Moon!

Astronauts Victor Glover (NASA, Pilot), Jeremy Hansen (Canadian Space Agency, Mission Specialist), Christina Koch (NASA, Mission Specialist), and Reid Wiseman (NASA, Commander) will make up the crew of the Artemis II mission, set to launch in November of 2024. The team includes the first woman and first person of color on a lunar mission.

This is the second phase of NASA’s Moon-centric Artemis program, with the successful launch of the uncrewed Artemis I mission kicking the whole thing off late last year. Overall, the program will consist of at least five Artemis missions, and is set to include the first lunar landing since 1972, and the landing of the first woman and first person of color on the Moon. It will also eventually lead to the construction of Gateway—a lunar outpost NASA plans to build in orbit around our satellite—and an Artemis Base Camp, where astronauts can live and work on the Moon’s surface.

Artemis II is the first crewed Artemis mission, but it does not include a landing. That won’t come until Artemis III. Artemis II is a lunar flyby mission, which will see the crew making use of the Space Launch System to send the Orion space capsule on a figure-8 around the Moon and back again.

The plan is to send the crew into space, where they will spend 2 days in a close orbit around Earth learning the spacecraft and making sure all systems are a go before heading out to the Moon. Once they arrive, they will slingshot around the Moon and be functionally thrown back to Earth, where they will splash down in the Pacific Ocean. The entire mission is scheduled to take 10 days.

Beyond successfully returning humans to the Moon, the Artemis program—and our return to the Moon in general—is the first step towards eventually putting humans on Mars. In a press release, NASA referred to it as the agency’s “Moon to Mars exploration approach.”

All in all, every part of the Artemis program is a big deal. And Artemis II is no different.

“For the first time in more than 50 years, these individuals—the Artemis II crew—will be the first humans to fly to the vicinity of the Moon. Among the crew are the first woman, first person of color, and first Canadian on a lunar mission, and all four astronauts will represent the best of humanity as they explore for the benefit of all,” Vanessa Wyche, director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, said in a news release.

“This mission paves the way for the expansion of human deep space exploration and presents new opportunities for scientific discoveries, commercial, industry and academic partnerships and the Artemis Generation.”

Congratulations to the crew of Artemis II. Take us back to the Moon.

From: Popular Mechanics
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Jackie Appel
Associate News Editor

Jackie is a writer and editor from Pennsylvania. She's especially fond of writing about space and physics, and loves sharing the weird wonders of the universe with anyone who wants to listen. She is supervised in her home office by her two cats.