Artemis II mission: NASA names 4 astronauts to fly by moon

HOUSTON — Officials with NASA and the Canadian Space Agency on Monday named the four astronauts who will set off on NASA’s first crewed mission to the moon in more than 50 years.

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NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said that Reid Wiseman will serve as the mission’s commander, Victor Glover will be its pilot and Christina Koch and Jeremy Hansen will act as mission specialists.

The announcement made Koch the first woman, Glover the first Black astronaut and Hansen the first Canadian to be assigned to a lunar mission. Hansen will also become the first non-U.S. citizen to be part of a NASA mission, according to The Associated Press.

“It’s been more than a half-century since astronauts journeyed to the moon. Well, folks, that’s about to change,” Nelson said Monday at an event in Houston. “The mission to the moon will launch four pioneers, but it will carry more than astronauts. Artemis II will carry the hopes of millions of people around the world.”

The Artemis II mission, which is set to launch in 2024, will mark the second spaceflight for Wiseman, Glover and Koch. All three previously lived on the International Space Station, according to the AP. Koch, who was one of two astronauts to take part in the first all-female spacewalk in 2019, previously set the record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman with 328 days in space.

Hansen, a former fighter pilot, will be traveling to space for the first time.

“The Artemis II crew represents thousands of people working tirelessly to bring us to the stars,” Nelson said on Monday. “This is their crew. This is our crew. This is humanity’s crew.”

NASA picked the three American astronauts chosen for the Artemis II crew from 41 candidates while Canada made its choice from four candidates, the AP reported. They are expected to launch on a 10-day flight test to “prove the Orion spacecraft’s life-support systems, and validate the capabilities and techniques needed for humans to live and work in deep space,” according to NASA.

The flight, which follows last year’s successful Artemis I mission, is expected to pave the way for future explorations to Mars, officials said.

“It’s a demonstration of our ability to push the boundaries of human achievement. It’s a testament to the unwavering passion of the team that will make it possible. And it’s a message to the world: We choose to go back to the moon and then on to Mars,” Nelson said Monday. “We will unlock new knowledge and understanding. We’ve always dreamed about what’s more ahead.”

President Joe Biden spoke with the Artemis II crew on Monday and thanked them for their service.

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