NASA Names Diverse Astronaut Crew for Artemis II Moon Mission

 Astronauts who will helm the first crewed moon mission in five decades were revealed on Monday, queuing up the quartet to begin training for the historic Artemis II lunar flyby that is set to take off in November 2024.

The astronauts are NASA’s Reid Wiseman, Victor Glover and Christina Koch, and Jeremy Hansen of the Canadian Space Agency.

Wiseman is a 47-year-old decorated naval aviator and test pilot who was first selected to be a NASA astronaut in 2009. A native of Baltimore, Maryland, he’s completed one prior spaceflight, a 165-day trip to the International Space Station that had launched aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket in 2014. Most recently, Wiseman served as chief of the astronaut office before stepping down in November 2022, making him eligible for a flight assignment.

Wiseman will serve as commander of the Artemis II mission.

Hansen, 47, is a fighter pilot who was selected by the Canadian Space Agency for astronaut training in 2009. From London, Ontario, Hansen is one of only four active Canadian astronauts, and he recently became the first Canadian to be put in charge of training for a new class of NASA astronauts.

He will be the first Canadian ever to travel to deep space.

Glover is a 46-year-old naval aviator who returned to Earth from his first spaceflight in 2021 after piloting the second crewed flight of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft and spending nearly six months aboard the International Space Station.

“It’s so much more than the four names that have been announced,” Glover said during the Monday announcement at NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston. “We need to celebrate this moment in human history. … It is the next step in the journey that will get humanity to Mars.”

Glover, born in Pomona, California, served in several military squadrons in the United States and Japan in the 2000s, and he completed test pilot training with the US Air Force. When he was selected for the NASA astronaut corps in 2013, he was working in the US Senate as a legislative fellow. All told Glover logged 3,000 flight hours in more than 40 aircraft, over 400 carrier arrested landings, and 24 combat missions.

Glover’s first mission to space was as part of the SpaceX Crew-1 team, which launched to the International Space Station in November 2020 for a six-month stay on the orbiting laboratory.

Koch, 44, is a veteran of six spacewalks — including the first all-female spacewalk in 2019. She holds the record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman, with a total of 328 days in space. Koch is also an electrical engineer who helped develop scientific instruments for multiple NASA missions. Koch, a native of Grand Rapids, Michigan, also spent a year at the South Pole, an arduous stay that could well prepare her for the intensity of a moon mission.

About this mission

The Artemis II mission will build on Artemis I, an uncrewed test mission that sent NASA’s Orion capsule on a 1.4 million-mile voyage to lap the moon that concluded in December. The space agency deemed that mission a success and is still working to review all the data collected.

The Artemis II lunar flyby mission crew members include (from left): NASA astronauts Christina Koch, Victor Glover, Reid Wiseman (foreground) and Canadian Space Agency astronaut Jeremy Hansen.

If all goes to plan, Artemis II will take off around November 2024. The crew members, strapped inside the Orion spacecraft, will launch atop a NASA-developed Space Launch System rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The journey is expected to last about 10 days and will send the crew out beyond the moon, potentially further than any human has traveled in history, though the exact distance is yet to be determined.

The “exact distance beyond the Moon will depend on the day of liftoff and the relative distance of the Moon from the Earth at the time of the mission,” NASA spokesperson Kathryn Hambleton said via email.

After circling the moon, the spacecraft will return to Earth for a splashdown landing in the Pacific Ocean.

Artemis II is expected to pave the way for the Artemis III mission later this decade, which NASA has vowed will put the first woman and person of color on the lunar surface. It will also mark the first time humans have touched down on the moon since the Apollo program ended in 1972.

The Artemis III mission is expected to take off later this decade. But much of the technology the mission will require, including spacesuits for walking on the moon and a lunar lander to ferry the astronauts to the moon’s surface, is still in development.

NASA is targeting a 2025 launch date for Artemis III, though the space agency’s inspector general has already said delays will likely push the mission to 2026 or later.

The space agency has been seeking to return people to the moon for more than a decade. The Artemis program was designed to pave the way to establishing a permanent lunar outpost, allowing astronauts to live and work deeper into space long-term as NASA and its partners map a path to sending the first humans to Mars.

Picking the astronauts

Vanessa Wyche, the director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, declined to provide details to CNN about the selection process. But she emphasized the diversity of the Artemis II crew, which includes men and women rather than only a staff of White male test pilots as has been the case for historic missions of the past.

“I can tell you, they still all have the right stuff,” Wyche said. “We have requirements different than we did (when we) just had test pilots” on inaugural missions.

Koch said in an interview with CNN’s Ed Lavandera that the group found out they were selected a few weeks ago.

“We were all sent to a meeting that was on our calendars under a different pretext that didn’t sound as lofty as the one it was going to be,” Koch said. “And accidentally two of us were very late to that meeting.”

She said the offer rendered her “speechless.”

“It truly is an honor,” she added. “It’s an honor — not to get me in space — but because it’s amazing to be a part of this team that’s going back to the moon and on to Mars.”

NASA on Monday announced a crew of four astronauts who will head to the moon within the next two years. The crew will travel around the moon and back on a 10-day mission.

The four astronauts are Victor Glover, Christina Koch and Reid Wiseman of NASA, and Jeremy Hansen of the Canadian Space Agency.

Until recently, G. Reid Wiseman, 47, served as NASA’s chief astronaut, meaning that he would have been responsible for selecting the four astronauts that flew on Artemis II. But he stepped down from that post last November and became eligible for assignment to the moon-bound crews of the Artemis missions.

Selected as part of the 2009 astronaut class, Mr. Wiseman, a captain in the United States Navy, spent 165 days in orbit at the International Space Station in 2014. Before joining NASA, he served two deployments in the Middle East.

Victor J. Glover, Jr., 46, was the pilot of the first operational mission of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule to the International Space Station from November 2020 to May 2021. He spent 168 days on the space station. He was the first Black man assigned as a crew member on the station — and participated in four spacewalks. Mr. Glover, a captain in the United States Navy, was selected to be an astronaut in 2013.

Originally from Pomona, Calif., Mr. Glover graduated with a bachelor’s degree in general engineering from California Polytechnic State University in 1999. From 2007 through 2010, he earned three master’s degrees: in flight test engineering, systems engineering and military operational art and science.

Mr. Glover is often referred to by his counterparts as Ike, a nod to a call sign a former commanding officer gave him that stands for “I know everything.”

Christina H. Koch, 44, holds the record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman — 328 days — and she, with another active astronaut, Jessica Meir, performed the first three all-women spacewalks in 2019 and 2020. She also conducted three other spacewalks. Her six spacewalks totaled 42 hours and 15 minutes.

Before being selected as an astronaut in 2013, Ms. Koch worked as an electrical engineer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. She later became a researcher in the United States Antarctic Program, which included a yearlong stay at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. Other places she has worked include the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, spending time in Alaska and American Samoa.

Jeremy Hansen is one of four active Canadian astronauts. He was selected by the Canadian Space Agency to be an astronaut in 2009. He is 47 years old and was born in Ontario.

Col. Hansen, who served as a fighter pilot in the Canadian Armed Forces, has yet to fly to space. In his time representing the Canadian Space Agency at NASA, he has served as a capsule communicator between mission control in Houston and the astronauts aboard the International Space Station. He was also the first Canadian tasked with leading an astronaut class.

Christina Koch, a graduate of N.C. State University which grew up in Jacksonville, North Carolina, will be one of four astronauts to fly around the moon for the first time in more than 50 years. Koch will join American astronauts Victor Glover and Reid Wiseman and Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen on the Artemis II mission, NASA announced Monday from the Johnson Space Center in Houston. The mission is estimated to take off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida in late 2024. The mission will not involve astronauts actually landing on the moon, but it is considered a test flight for the later Artemis III mission that will see the first woman and person of color land on the moon’s surface. That mission is planned for 2025. Want to know more about Koch, her ties to North Carolina, and her history-making career? We’ve compiled information about her from previous coverage by The News & Observer, NASA, and N.C. State. Here’s what to know about astronaut Christina Koch. WHO IS CHRISTINA KOCH? ASTRONAUT’S TIES TO NC Koch is originally from Michigan but grew up in Jacksonville, near the North Carolina coast. She attended White Oak High School in Jacksonville before attending the North Carolina School of Science and Math, a residential, public high school in Durham that is part of the UNC System. Koch attended college at N.C. State University, receiving bachelor’s degrees in electrical engineering and physics in 2001. She also holds a master’s degree in electrical engineering from the university. ▪ Koch is the first graduate of N.C. State to go to space. ▪ She spoke at the university’s virtual commencement ceremony in 2020. During that ceremony, she received an honorary Ph.D. from the university. ▪ Koch took a memento of N.C. State aboard the International Space Station in 2019, a printed circuit board with an etching of the wolf mascot wearing an astronaut helmet. Christina Koch will be a mission specialist on the Artemis II mission to the moon in 2024. She took part in the first all-woman spacewalk in 2019. She grew up in Jacksonville, NC, and graduated from N.C. State University. NASA ▪ Koch will be the only professional engineer aboard the Artemis II mission, NASA director of flight operations directorate Norm Knight said at the Artemis II crew announcement. “As the only professional engineer in the crew, I know who Mission Control will be calling on when it’s time to fix something on-board,” he said. Koch describes herself as an avid photographer, and she has shared photos of her time in space on social media — including her first time seeing her home in coastal North Carolina. “It took my breath away as it came into focus. My first glimpse of coastal North Carolina from space. It’s a special thing to see from above the place where you grew up--the ocean that first inspired my fascination with things that make me feel small & planted the seed to explore,” Koch tweeted in 2019. Koch was The News & Observer’s Tar Heel of the Month in August 2019, which honors people who have made significant contributions to North Carolina and the region. CHRISTINA KOCH’S RECORD-BREAKING, HISTORY-MAKING CAREER Koch got her to start with NASA at the agency’s Goddard Space Flight Center, completing the NASA Academy program there in 2001. She then worked as an electrical engineer at Goddard early in her career. Koch was selected in 2013 as one of eight members of NASA’s 21st astronaut class, then completed astronaut candidate training in 2015. She was assigned in 2018 to her first space flight, a long-duration mission on the International Space Station that launched in March 2019. Expedition 60 Flight Engineer Christina Koch of NASA works inside the Quest joint airlock cleaning U.S. spacesuit cooling loops and replacing spacesuit components. Christina Koch NASA As part of the Artemis II mission, Koch will be the first woman to embark on a lunar mission — but it won’t be her first time making history as an astronaut. Koch holds the record for the longest single, continuous spaceflight by a woman, a distinction she earned spending 328 days aboard the International Space Station between 2019 and 2020. The previous record was 289 days. Koch was also part of the first all-female spacewalk in 2019, installing a solar power system for the International Space Station with fellow NASA astronaut Jessica Meir. NASA Administrator Bill Nelson introduced Koch at the Artemis II crew announcement by noting that she “is no stranger to breaking records.” “You have already made your mark in the remote corners of our planet. You have already been in the history books as a record-setting astronaut,” Knight told Koch on stage later in the presentation. “You’re a trailblazer and a role model for every generation to come. You’ve already been advocating and uplifting children in your community, and I know that you are just getting started.”

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