Human Interest

NASA names 4 astronauts to circle the Moon next year

Miami, Apr 3 (EFE).- NASA on Monday announced the names of the four crewmembers for the Artemis II mission that next year will be launched on a 10-day mission to circle the Moon, a preparatory step on the way to setting foot once again on the luner surface for the first time in more than half a century.

The members of the Artemis II mission will be: Americans Reid Wiseman (commander), Victor Glover (pilot), Christina Koch and Canadian space agency astronaut Jeremy Hansen, the latter two of whom are mission specialists.

The mission will lift off in November 2024 from Florida in an Orion space capsule on board the powerful SLS rocket, both of which went through their first flight tests on the successful Artemis I mission last year.

NASA said that this crew will fly the first mission on the road to establishing a long-term presence on the Moon.

During 1968-1972, the United States put 12 men on the lunar surface, each two-man team for stays of several days, bringing them all back to Earth safely with loads of moonrocks and a huge amount of technical and scientific data.

“This is humanity’s crew,” said NASA Director Bill Nelson at the announcement ceremony at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

The former Democratic senator said that the mission is the start of a new era of exploration for a new generation of stellar navigators and dreamers: “The Artemis Generation.”

The selection of the four Artemis II crewmembers was made from among 41 active-duty US astronauts and four Canadian astronauts.

NASA is scheduled to send the first crewed Artemis mission to actually land two astronauts on Earth’s satellite in 2025.

“It is not lost on any of us that the United States could choose to go back to the moon by themselves,” Hansen – who has not yet been into space – said Monday at the ceremony, at which Canadian Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry Francois-Philippe Champagne, who is the minister in charge of the Canadian space agency, also spoke.

“But America has made a very deliberate choice over decades to curate a global team – and that in my definition is true leadership,” Hansen added.

Glover, for his part, said that he prayed that he and his fellow crewmates can continue serving as a source of inspiration for cooperation and peace among nations but also within the US. Glover was the pilot on NASA’s Crew-1 mission in conjunction with SpaceX and spent six months on board the International Space Station (ISS).

He also said that the Artemis II mission will be a first step in mounting a crewed mission to Mars.

Koch has also been into space before, having set the women’s record for the longest spaceflight when she spent 328 days on board the ISS.

“We are going,” said Wiseman, who has flown one mission to the ISS, to applause from the audience after congratulating the other members of the team.

Meanwhile, the White House announced Monday that President Joe Biden spoke by telephone on Sunday to the four astronauts to congratulate them and thank them for their service, which he said serves as an inspiration for “countless people in the United States and around the world.”

The president also spoke by phone with the children of the astronauts, a top White House official said.

EFE lce-bpm/ar/bp

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