NASA announced on Monday that history will be made as the first woman and the first African American have been chosen as astronauts for a lunar mission.
They are part of a team of four that have been selected to go on the first crewed trip around the moon in over 50 years.
The Artemis II mission will include Christina Koch as a mission specialist, who already holds the record for being the woman to spend the longest continuous time in space and was part of NASA’s first three all-female spacewalks.
Victor Glover, a US Navy aviator veteran, has been appointed as Artemis II’s pilot, making history as the first black astronaut to be sent on a lunar mission.
Along with these two astronauts, the team will include Jeremy Hansen as a mission specialist and Reid Wiseman, the Artemis II mission commander.
All three astronauts have previously been a part of expeditions aboard the International Space Station. Hansen is the only one who will participate in his first spaceflight, rounding off the Artemis II quartet.
NASA introduced the team of four at a lively event featuring journalists, educators and industry leaders held at NASA’s mission control base in Houston, Texas.
The debut crewed trip for the Artemis successor program, Artemis I, was successfully completed in December 2022, concluding the inaugural launch of NASA’s newest mega-rocket and the recently produced Orion spacecraft.
The objective of the 10-day Artemis II journey around the moon and back is to demonstrate that all of Orion’s life-support equipment and other systems are designed to operate correctly with astronauts on board in deep space.
The spacecraft will venture over 6,400 miles beyond the far side of the moon for an unmatched approach to Earth’s natural satellite since Apollo 17.
If successful, the Artemis project will usher in future human exploration of Mars, with the first lunar landing for Artemis III a few years later.
Unlike the Apollo program, which was formed during the Cold War-space race with the Soviet Union, Artemis is broader in scope, including commercial partners such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX and international government space agencies.
It also marks a significant redirection of NASA’s human spaceflight strategy beyond low-Earth orbit, as the agency has focused on space shuttles and the International Space Station for several decades.