NASA has announced the names of the four astronauts who will fly to the moon by the end of 2024. The crew, including three men and one woman, consists of an African-American naval aviator and a Canadian astronaut. NASA has selected Reid Wiseman as the mission’s commander, and he will be joined by Victor Glover, Christina Koch, and Jeremy Hansen, with all of them being space veterans except Hansen.
The crew will be the first to fly NASA’s Orion capsule, which will launch atop a Space Launch System rocket from Kennedy Space Center no earlier than late 2024. The four astronauts will fly around the moon and return straight back to Earth, serving as a prelude to a lunar landing by two other astronauts a year later.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson called the four astronauts “humanity’s crew,” and the announcement of the Artemis program’s first crew is seen as a significant step towards NASA’s goal of establishing a sustainable presence on the moon and eventually sending humans to Mars. The mission will test and demonstrate NASA’s capabilities for future human exploration missions and pave the way for a more extensive lunar exploration program.
NASA selected the first Artemis crew from 41 active astronauts, with Canada putting forward four candidates. The crew is the first to include a woman and someone not from the U.S. in NASA’s new moon program named Artemis. Provided its next 10-day moonshot goes well, NASA aims to land two astronauts on the moon by 2025.
During the Apollo era from 1968 to 1972, NASA sent 24 astronauts to the moon, with 12 of them landing. All of them were military-trained test pilots except for Apollo 17’s Harrison Schmitt, a geologist who closed out the moon landing era alongside the late Gene Cernan.
The Artemis program aims to use innovative technologies to explore new areas of the lunar surface and conduct experiments that will prepare for human missions to Mars. NASA’s ultimate goal is to establish a sustainable presence on the moon by the end of the decade.