NASA Announces Four Astronauts for the Artemis 2 Moon Mission

Fifty years after the last Moon landing, NASA announced on Monday the four people who will orbit the Moon aboard the Orion spacecraft. Thanks to an expanded and diverse pool of profiles, the team includes one woman and one racialized individual.

Their names may not be as famous as those of Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, or Yuri Gagarin, but they will mark the history of space exploration in their way. These four astronauts selected for the Artemis 2 mission will become the first humans of the 21st century to travel around the Moon next year.

The four selected astronauts for the Artemis 2 moon mission are Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen and U.S. astronauts Reid Wiseman, Victor Glover and Christina Koch.

The Goal of Artemis 2 Mission

The goal of Artemis 2 Mission is not yet to set foot on the Moon (that’s for Artemis 3 at the end of 2025), but to go around our natural satellite (the Moon) aboard the brand-new Orion spacecraft before returning to Earth within 10 days. No crew had ventured so far into space since the Apollo 17 lunar landing in December 1972.

Diversified Pool of Astronauts for Artemis 2 Mission

The choice of the lucky ones was more complex than in the Apollo era because the pool of astronauts is now widened and diversified. Moreover, NASA is now keen to assemble a team representative of the human species. With men and women, whites, and racialized people, test pilots, commanders and mission specialists. And not only Americans.

Canada has the honour of occupying one of the four available seats on the Artemis 2 mission in exchange for its technological participation in the future lunar orbital station, the Lunar Gateway.

Within a few years, the Canadian space agency will provide a large articulated arm named Canadarm 3, which will help with docking and maintenance manoeuvres on the station. It has already provided the largest robotic arm on the ISS, Canadarm 2.

Artemis 2 Crew

Artemis 2 Crew

The decision process is carried out in absolute secrecy, and one should not count on a leak. But speculations went well.

Who were the Male Contenders for the Artemis 2 Mission?

The American channel CNN, for example, had its idea after having spoken to a dozen people at NASA to understand the selection process. Its bid was on Reid Wiseman, a 47-year-old astronaut who previously spent six months on the ISS in 2014.

Wiseman was most recently the head of NASA’s astronaut office, a prestigious position but one that prevented him from being selected for a space mission himself.

Except that Wiseman resigned from that position in November 2022. That was fishy, wasn’t it? In any case, it was great timing for a big announcement this Monday.

CNN recently cited Victor Glover, a 46-year-old African-American astronaut and naval aviator, who found himself at the controls of the Crew Dragon spacecraft in 2020. It was the first operational flight for this SpaceX spacecraft, which marked the return of American independence to shuttle to the ISS. Previously, for the past decade, Americans could only rely on Russian hospitality aboard their Soyuz capsules.

Victor Glover has experience piloting a brand-new spacecraft and has four “spacewalks” to his credit. These are all good points for the job. “It takes a certain level of skill, experience, and maturity just to have the courage to go up there, to be among the first to do it and to stay calm,” Reid Wiseman told CNN.

“We’re going to go beyond low Earth orbit for the first time in a very long time, on a vehicle that has only flown once so far.”

The final male favourite for CNN was Randolph Bresnik, 55, another pilot, who had the advantage of knowing his subject well since he oversaw the development of the astronaut office and the testing of the vehicles that will be used in the Artemis missions.

Who were the Female Contenders for the Artemis 2 Mission?

On the women’s side, everyone was thinking of Jessica Meir and Christina Koch, who have already etched their names in history by donning their suits in late 2019 on the ISS for the first-ever 100% female spacewalk. At 43, Christina Koch, an electrical engineer by training, has already completed six spacewalks and spent almost a year in space – 328 days, making her the longest-serving woman in space.

Jessica Meir is a 45-year-old biologist who has spent more than 200 days in space and been on three spacewalks outside the station. Both have worked on scientific bases in Antarctica, giving them valuable experience surviving in a hostile environment.

In the veteran genre, Stephanie Wilson also had something to say, according to CNN. An astronaut since 1996, the 56-year-old African-American engineer has flown brief missions aboard the U.S. space shuttle three times in her career, between 2006 and 2010. The first of these missions marked the return to flight of the shuttle after the Columbia accident in 2003 and consisted of validating new equipment and safety procedures.

Finally, Anne McClain, an engineer and helicopter pilot for the U.S. Army, accumulated 203 days and 2 spacewalks and was shortlisted for the “Artemis team” in 2018.

Who were the Canadian Contenders for the Artemis 2 Mission?

The prognosis was more superficial for the Canadian guest of the Artemis 2 mission, as Canada’s astronaut corps has only four people: Jeremy Hansen, Joshua Kutryk, David Saint-Jacques, and Jenni Sidey-Gibbons. Nevertheless, Jeremy Hansen’s name was the one that came up most often in the days leading up to the big announcement this Monday.

A 47-year-old fighter pilot, he has officially been an astronaut since 2009 and has undergone a whole battery of training (he even became a NASA astronaut trainer in 2017). However, he was still waiting to be assigned to his first flight in space.

A perfect candidate to occupy the role of the novice alongside American veterans, even if we must not forget, as Reid Wiseman reminded CNN, that the selection process is complicated to anticipate by outside observers because it sometimes plays on details, such as the size of available spacesuits.

Qualities of an Ideal Artemis 2 Astronaut

Remembering the qualities not found on a CV, such as a team spirit, optimism, and good humour, is crucial to weld a group exiled to 350,000 kilometres from Earth.

“It’s a new era for pioneers, star navigators, thinkers, and adventurers,” promised NASA boss Bill Nelson in a video just released by the space agency, complete with plenty of slow-motion shots and dramatic music to make it a blockbuster trailer.

NASA can’t wait to get things started. Unfortunately, however, we will have to wait until November 2024 to see the four chosen astronauts put on their spacesuits, climb into the SLS rocket, and leave Earth.

The Importance of Diversity in Space Exploration

In conclusion, selecting the Artemis 2 crew was a historic moment in the history of space exploration, marking a new era of diversity and inclusivity in the space industry. With women and racialized individuals among the selected astronauts, NASA is sending a clear message of openness and progress towards a future of cooperation and collaboration in space.

The Artemis 2 mission will be an essential step towards realizing this vision and a crucial milestone in the quest for knowledge and discovery beyond our planet.

Verified by Source.

With information from CNN.

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