NASA names first woman and first black man to embark on Moon mission

3 April 2023, 20:27 | Updated: 3 April 2023, 20:28

Victor Glover and Christina Koch from NASA's Artemis II mission to the Moon
Victor Glover and Christina Koch will take part in NASA's Artemis II mission. Picture: NASA/Alamy

By James Hockaday

NASA has announced the four astronauts who will take part in the first Moon mission in more than 50 years.

The one woman and three men embarking on the Artemis II mission were introduced during a ceremony today in Houston, Texas.

Christina Koch will become the first female astronaut ever assigned to a lunar mission - while Victor Glover will be the first black person to participate in one.

The three Americans and one Canadian in the crew will be the first to fly NASA’s Orion spacecraft- which will set off from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida no earlier than late 2024.

They will now begin a period of intense training in order to prepare for the Artemis II launch - currently pegged for November 2024.

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From left, Jeremy Hansen, Victor Glover, Reid Wiseman and Christina Hammock Koch, celebrate on stage as they are announced as the NASA Artemis II crew.
From left, Jeremy Hansen, Victor Glover, Reid Wiseman and Christina Hammock Koch, celebrate as they're announced as the Artemis II crew. Picture: Alamy

Although they have been women and people of colour in space, all crewed missions to the Moon have been made by white men - signalling an improvement of diversity by NASA.

"The Artemis-2 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," said Nasa Administrator Bill Nelson.

"Nasa astronauts Reid Wiseman, Victor Glover, and Christina Hammock Koch, and CSA astronaut Jeremy Hansen, each has their own story, but, together, they represent our creed: E pluribus unum - out of many, one.

“Together, we are ushering in a new era of exploration for a new generation of star sailors and dreamers - the Artemis Generation."

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Vanessa Wyche, director of Nasa's Johnson Space Flight Center, said: "Among the crew are the first woman, first person of colour, and first Canadian on a lunar mission, and all four astronauts will represent the best of humanity as they explore for the benefit of all.

"This mission paves the way for the expansion of human deep space exploration and presents new opportunities for scientific discoveries, commercial, industry and academic partnerships and the Artemis Generation."

Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA. 16th Nov, 2022. NASA's Space Launch System rocket carrying the Orion spacecraft launches on the Artemis I flight test, from Launch Complex 39B at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
It follows the successful launch of Artemis I - part of NASA's long-term plan to establish a base on the Moon to facilitate missions to Mars. Picture: Alamy

It follows the launch of the Artemis I rocket, which carried the Orion - piloted by a mannequin named Commander Moonikin Campos - to test out the vehicle and space launch system.

The Artemis II crew will not land on the moon, instead only flying around the lunar landscape as NASA tests out a variety of new technology, systems and procedures.

The 10-day mission is in preparation for Artemis III, which will see four astronauts landing on the Moon in 2025, while Artemis IV, in 2027, is set to be the second lunar landing.

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NASA’s long-term goal under its Artemis programme is to establish a permanent base on the Moon to facilitate missions to Mars.

In June the agency will send four people on a year-long mission in a habitat designed to simulate the conditions of Mars - helping humanity prepare for the day it eventually reaches the Red Planet.