First female and Black astronauts for NASA Moon mission

NASA names four astronauts for historic moon mission

NASA has named the first woman and the first African-American to be assigned as astronauts to a lunar mission.

The history-making pair was intoduced as part of a four-member team chosen to fly as early as 2024 on the first crewed voyage around the moon in more than 50 years.

Christina Koch, an engineer who already holds the record for the longest continuous spaceflight by a woman, was named as a mission specialist, while Victor Glover, a US Navy aviator, was selected as the Artemis II pilot.

Captain Glover, who was part of the second crewed flight of a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, would become the first astronaut of colour to be sent on a lunar mission.

Rounding out the four-member crew are Jeremy Hansen, the first Canadian chosen for a flight to the moon, as a mission specialist, and Reid Wiseman, an International Space Station veteran, named as Artemis II mission commander.

The Artemis II quartet were introduced at a televised news conference in Houston at the Johnson Space Centre, NASA’s mission control base.

Artemis II will mark the debut crewed flight – but not the first lunar landing – of an Apollo successor program aimed at returning astronauts to the moon’s surface later this decade.

The ultimate goal is to establish a sustainable outpost there, creating a stepping stone to future human exploration of Mars.

“We need to celebrate this moment in human history because Artemis-2 is more than a mission to the moon and back; it’s more than a mission that has to happen before we send people to the surface of the moon,” Captain Glover said.

“It is the next step on the journey that gets humanity to Mars.”

All 12 NASA astronauts who landed on the moon during a total of six Apollo missions from 1969 to 1972 were white men.

Topics: NASA
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