By Jose Maria Rodriguez
Tinajo, Spain, Nov 16 (EFE).- When Nasa returns to the Moon in two and half years it is likely astronaut Niel Armstrong’s now legendary quote may well need a modern update as biologist Kathleen Rubins hopes to become the first woman to set foot on the dusty surface of the Earth’s only natural satellite.
Rubins, 43, is the fourth American woman to have spent the longest time in space, specifically 300 days, one hour and 31 minutes once her two flights in the Soyuz spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS) are combined. She has also done three spacewalks.
The Nasa astronaut is brushing up her skills on collecting and reading rock samples at the European Space Agency’s (ESA) geology training program in Lanzarote in the Spanish Canary Islands.
The barren and volcanic landscape of the Timanfaya National Park offers the perfect terrain for astronauts and scientists to conduct mock tests ahead of explorations beyond planet Earth as part of the Artemis programme led by the Italian geologist Francesco Sauro.
Artemis, the strong Greek goddess of hunting and Apollo’s twin sister, reveals a broader intention, namely the goal of putting the first woman on the Moon.
According to Loreana Bessone, director of the programme, everyone should watch out for Rubins as a likely candidate to join the moon mission.
But Rubins is more cautious and tells reporters that the crew that will fly the Orion spacecraft to the Moon has not yet been chosen.
Will this visit to the moon be “a small step” for women, journalists prod in reference to Neil Armstrong’s now legendary words he uttered upon setting foot on the moon’s pitted surface on July 21, 1969.
“I think it’s not so important whether it is a step for man or woman,” she answers. “This will be a step for humankind.”