After months of deliberation, NASA has revealed the names of the four astronauts it’s sending to the moon’s orbit next year. Jeremy Hansen, Victor Glover, Christina Koch, and Reid Wiseman will make up the crew of Artemis II when it launches in 2024, according to the space agency.
The Artemis program marks the first crewed mission to the moon since 1972. In December 2022, NASA sent its Orion capsule around the moon as a test run for the upcoming mission. Following a successful flyby, the agency is preparing to send four of its top astronauts into the satellite’s orbit. Though they won’t land on the surface, the crew is set to go around the moon, which could take them farther from Earth than any human has ever ventured. The 10-day mission will end with a splash landing in the Pacific Ocean.
The crew has decades of military and spaceflight experience among them. Crew commander Reid Wiseman was a decorated naval aviator and test pilot prior to serving as the chief of NASA’s astronaut office. According to CNN, he’s been at the top of NASA’s candidate list for months. Pilot Victor Glover also has a background as a naval aviator. Mission specialist Christina Koch has completed six spacewalks and holds the record for longest continuous spaceflight by a woman. Astronaut Jeremy Hansen will represent the Canadian Space Agency as a mission specialist.
The end goal of the Artemis program is to send astronauts to the moon’s surface for the first time this century. Artemis III is currently planned for the mid 2020s, though delays could occur as the agency continues to develop the necessary technology. In addition to touching down on the moon’s surface for the first time in more than 50 years, the crew of Artemis III will be the first people to explore the lunar South Pole.