Houston, 4 April 2023 (TDI)): NASA has announced the crew for its upcoming Artemis II mission, which will be the first piloted voyage beyond Earth’s orbit since the end of the Apollo program 50 years ago.

NASA Administrator, Bill Nelson introduced the Artemis II crew to a throng of family members, fellow astronauts, NASA managers, engineers, and the media in a hangar at Ellington Field near the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

The crew includes Canadian astronaut, Jeremy Hansen and three NASA veterans, including one of the world’s most experienced female spacewalkers, Christina Koch.

Scheduled for launch in 2023, Artemis II will see a crew of four astronauts – including Canadian astronaut, Joshua Kutryk – launch atop NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and test the Orion spacecraft in flight.

The crew will spend a day in high Earth orbit, testing Orion’s rendezvous systems before firing the spacecraft’s service module engine to put the ship on a trajectory that will carry the crew beyond the moon.

While the Artemis II crew won’t go into orbit or fly closer than about 5,000 miles from the lunar surface, the mission is an important step in NASA’s long-term plan to establish a sustainable human presence on the moon & eventually send astronauts to Mars.

Artemis II
The Artemis II crew in an Orion spacecraft cockpit simulator at the Johnson Space Center. Left to right: Jeremy Hansen, Victor Glover, Reid Wiseman, and Christina Koch.

The mission is intended to pave the way toward the first moon landing, Artemis III, which is scheduled for the 2025-26 timeframe.

Artemis II will be a historic mission, not just for the space agency, but for the world. The crew will carry the hopes of millions of people around the globe, as NASA takes another step toward deep space exploration & ultimately, human exploration of Mars.

During a press conference at Ellington Field near the Johnson Space Center in Houston, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson introduced the crew.

He said, “Artemis II is more than a mission to the moon and back. It is the next step on the journey that gets humanity to Mars. And this crew will never forget that.”

Among the crew, Reid Wiseman, Christina Koch, and Victor Glover have extensive experience aboard the International Space Station.

Hansen, on the other hand, will be making his first space flight. The Canadian astronaut is a veteran F-18 fighter pilot and will be the ninth Canadian to fly in space and the first to venture beyond Earth orbit.

The historic mission’s inclusion of a Canadian astronaut recognizes Canada’s significant contributions to space exploration, particularly in the development of the robot arm crucial for assembling the International Space Station.

Additionally, Canada continues to contribute to the ongoing development of another arm for NASA’s planned Gateway lunar orbit outpost.

Navy Capt. Reid Wiseman, 47, is a widowed father of two and a veteran F/A-18F Super Hornet pilot who holds a master’s in systems engineering.

He launched aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft in 2014 and spent 165 days aboard the space station, then served as a chief astronaut after his return to Earth.

Christina Koch, 44, holds a master’s in electrical engineering and has experience in Antarctic research.

She also launched aboard a Soyuz and spent nearly a full year aboard the lab in 2019-20, venturing outside for six spacewalks, including three all-female excursions.

With 42 hours and 15 minutes of EVA time, she ranks third on the list of most experienced female spacewalkers.

Victor Glover, 46, is a Navy Captain, a father of four, and one of only a half dozen African Americans in NASA’s astronaut corps. He launched to the station aboard the first operational SpaceX Crew Dragon mission in 2021-22, logging 168 days in orbit.

Glover is a veteran test pilot with more than 3,000 hours of flight time and more than 400 carrier landings.

During the press conference, Hansen expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to be a part of the historic mission, saying, “There are two reasons why a Canadian is going to the moon. The first one is American leadership,”

“It is not lost on any of us that the US could choose to go back to the moon by themselves. But America has made a very deliberate choice over decades to curate a global team.”

“The second reason,” he continued, “was Canada’s ‘can-do attitude.’ For decades now, literally, thousands upon thousands of Canadians have risen to that challenge to bring real value to the international partnership for space exploration,”

“All of those have added up to this moment where a Canadian is going to the moon with our international partnership. And it is glorious!”

With preparations for Artemis II underway, the mission represents a significant step forward in NASA’s efforts to explore deep space and establish a sustainable human presence on the moon.

As the agency looks ahead to the future, Artemis II will serve as a crucial stepping stone in the pursuit of discoveries and the expansion of human knowledge beyond Earth’s atmosphere.

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