Christina Koch, NASA astronaut who holds the record for the longest solo space flight by a woman, will be the mission specialist for the Artemis II flight around the moon next year.
NASA aviator Victor Glover will pilot the Orion spacecraft that will fly around the moon in November 2024, becoming the first black person to take part in a lunar mission.
The crew includes veteran NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman, 47, mission commander, and Jeremy Hansen, also 47, a former fighter pilot now with the Canadian Space Agency.
Three Americans and one Canadian will be the first astronauts to go into such deep space since the historic Apollo missions ended in 1972.
All three American astronauts have spent time on the International Space Station (ISS), while Hansen, a Canadian specialist, will make his first space flight.
Four astronauts dressed in blue flight suits were introduced by NASA Administrator Bill Nelson to an event at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.
“The biggest and most powerful rocket in the world will take them forward and up into the skies,” Nelson said.
Koch, 44, an electrical engineer, spent a record 11 consecutive months in space and took part in the first all-female spacewalk on the ISS.
“Am I excited?” Koch said. “Absolutely!”
Glover, 46, said Artemis II is “more than a mission to the moon and back.”
“This is the next step that will take humanity to Mars,” he said.
Mars by 2040
Wiseman, the mission commander, said the diverse crew consisted of “exceptional operators”.
“We are all just professional researchers,” he told AFP.
“We represent our nation,” Wiseman said, “but we need the whole world to be with us. ”
François-Philippe Champagne, Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, attended the event and said his country “could not be more proud” to have a Canadian on this flight.
Under the Artemis program, NASA plans to send astronauts to the Moon in 2025, more than five decades after the last Apollo mission.
In addition to placing the first woman and the first human of color on the Moon, the US space agency hopes to establish a prolonged human presence on the lunar surface as a springboard for a possible trip to Mars.
Nelson, head of NASA, said he expects a manned mission to Mars by 2040.
The 10-day Artemis II mission will test NASA’s powerful Space Launch System rocket as well as life support systems aboard the Orion spacecraft.
The maiden flight of Artemis ended in December when the uncrewed Orion capsule returned safely to Earth after a 25-day journey around the moon.
During the flight around the orbiting satellite of the Earth and back, Orion flew more than a million miles (1.6 million kilometers) and went farther from the Earth than any previous inhabited spacecraft.
Only 12 people – all of them white – have set foot on the moon.
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