A new era of lunar exploration is upon us, and a historic event is set to unfold – the first moon crew in 50 years. This momentous occasion marks a significant milestone in space exploration and opens up new possibilities for scientific research, technological innovation, and human exploration beyond Earth.
NASA on Monday gave the name of four astronauts who will orbit the moon later next year. The team will have a flight around the moon in late 2024.
This is the first time in 50 years the American lunar crew includes a citizen from another country. The team was officially revealed during the ceremony held in Houston, home to the nation’s astronaut corps.
The crew will become the first to fly NASA’s Orion capsule, launching from Kennedy Space Center on a Space Launch System rocket by late 2024. They don’t land or enter lunar orbit but fly around the moon and return to Earth.
The mission commander, Reed Wiseman, is accompanied by African-American naval aviator Victor Glover, Christina Koch, whose world record for longest space flight by a woman, and Canadian Jeremy Hansen – a former fighter pilot and a lonely space newcomer to the crew.
This is the first lunar crew of the United States that includes people from other nations and the first to be named after the mythical Apollo (Artemis) twin sisters in NASA’s New Moon program.
The Canadian Space Agency earned a spot for its contribution to the gigantic robotic arms aboard NASA’s Space Shuttle and Space Station, which is also planned for the Moon project.
Before this crew, NASA successfully sent 12 of 24 astronauts to the moon from 1968 to 1972 during the Apollo program. All of them were qualified military pilots, except one geologist, Apollo 17’s Harrison Schmidt.
NASA aims to land two astronauts on the moon by around 2025 if the next 10 days of lunar surface photography go well.
Apollo 11’s Buzz Aldrin, Scott Kelly, and the retired astronauts have sent their congrats. Chris Hadfield, the first Canadian space station commander to perform David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” from orbit, tweeted about this wonderful news.
On Sunday, the four astronauts and their families also had a chance to meet and speak with President Joe Biden.