Nasa and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) have announced the four astronauts who will embark on the Artemis II lunar mission.
It will be the first crewed mission on Nasa’s path to establishing a long-term presence at the Moon for science and exploration.
The first Artemis mission launched in September. The successful unmanned mission tested the Space Launch System (SLS) – the rocket that will carry the Orion spacecraft that will transport astronauts on future Artemis launches.
December 2022 marked 50 years since man last set foot on the Moon, and Artemis represents the next frontier of space travel.
When is the Artemis II launch?
Artemis II is set to launch in November 2024. An exact date is yet to be confirmed. The flight is set to last for approximately 10 days.
The Orion spacecraft will launch from Nasa’s Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, and the crew should reach the far side of the Moon after four days.
They will carry out a number of tests on Orion as they orbit the Moon but will not make a landing – this will have to wait until the Artemis III mission, expected for 2025.
The crew will travel around 6,400 miles before making their return to Earth. Orion will land in Pacific Ocean near the coast of San Diego, with the astronauts being brought ashore by Nasa’s recovery team.
What is the purpose of Artemis II?
Nasa says the Artemis II flight test will “launch on the agency’s powerful Space Launch System rocket, prove the Orion spacecraft’s life-support systems, and validate the capabilities and techniques needed for humans to live and work in deep space”.
The Artemis missions will eventually put the first woman and first person of colour on the Moon, with the ultimate goal of a potential manned mission to Mars.
Nasa said: “With Artemis missions, Nasa will land the first woman and first person of colour on the moon, using innovative technologies to explore more of the lunar surface than ever before.
“We will collaborate with commercial and international partners and establish the first long-term presence on the Moon.
“Then, we will use what we learn on and around the moon to take the next giant leap: sending the first astronauts to Mars.”
Who are the Artemis II astronauts?
Nasa astronauts Reid Wiseman, Victor Glover, and Christina Hammock Koch, and CSA astronaut Jeremy Hansen will make up the four-person crew for the mission.
Nasa administrator, Bill Nelson, said: “The Artemis II crew represents thousands of people working tirelessly to bring us to the stars. This is their crew, this is our crew, this is humanity’s crew.”
This will be a second flight into space for Wiseman, Glover and Koch, while Hansen will be making his first trip into orbit.
“I could not be prouder that these brave four will kickstart our journeys to the Moon and beyond,” said Norm Knight, director of flight operations at Nasa’s Johnson Space Centre in Houston.
“They represent exactly what an astronaut corps should be: a mix of highly capable and accomplished individuals with the skills and determination to take on any trial as a team. The Artemis II mission will be challenging, and we’ll test our limits as we prepare to put future astronauts on the Moon. With Reid, Victor, Christina, and Jeremy at the controls, I have no doubt we’re ready to face every challenge that comes our way.”