A woman and an African-American will go around the Moon in 2024, a first

For the first time, a woman and an African-American will go to the Moon: NASA revealed on Monday the names of the four astronauts who will go around our natural satellite at the end of 2024, after more than 50 years of absence

A woman and an African-American will go around the Moon in 2024, a first

For the first time, a woman and an African-American will go to the Moon: NASA revealed on Monday the names of the four astronauts who will go around our natural satellite at the end of 2024, after more than 50 years of absence.

Americans Reid Wiseman, Victor Glover and Christina Hammock Koch, as well as Canadian Jeremy Hansen, will form the crew of Artemis 2, NASA announced from Houston, Texas.

They will be the first humans to travel to the Moon -- without landing there -- since the last Apollo mission in 1972. Artemis 2 must prepare for the next mission, which will mark the return of humans to lunar soil.

Mission Commander Reid Wiseman and his two compatriots already know space from being on board the International Space Station (ISS), while this will be Jeremy Hansen's first spaceflight. .

Dressed in blue jumpsuits, the quartet were introduced by NASA boss Bill Nelson from the US space agency center in Houston.

“It has been more than half a century since astronauts traveled to the Moon,” he said. "Well, that will change."

With the presence in the team of African-American Victor Glover and Christina Hammock Koch, NASA is getting ahead of its promise to send, for the next mission which must land on lunar soil, the first woman and the first person of color on the Moon, when the Apollo program took 12 men there, all white.

"Am I excited? Absolutely, but I'll turn the question over to you," Christina Hammock Koch, 44, asked at a press conference. "Because the thing that excites me the most is to carry with us your enthusiasm, your aspirations, your dreams during this Artemis 2 mission."

The mission commander, Reid Wiseman, praised the "exceptional" qualities of his teammates.

"We represent our country" to explore space but "we need the whole world to be with us," he told AFP.

The four were congratulated in a Sunday call by President Joe Biden, the White House said.

The chosen astronauts are aware of the importance of Artemis 2: "It is the next leg of the journey that will take humanity to Mars", explained Victor Glover, 46, pilot of the US Navy like Christina Hammock Koch . "This crew will never forget it."

The Artemis program intends to eventually sign the return of humans to the Moon with the establishment of a lasting lunar presence, by the construction of a base on the surface of the Moon and a space station in orbit around it. .

Learning to live on the Moon should make it possible to test all the technologies necessary for an even more complex journey: sending a crew to Mars.

The launch of Artemis 2 is currently scheduled for November 2024. The mission should last about ten days.

The four astronauts will travel with NASA's SLS rocket, the most powerful in the world today.

They will take place at the top of this rocket, in the Orion capsule, which will detach once in space and take them around the Moon. When returning, they will land in the ocean.

The SLS rocket has so far only flown once, during the Artemis 1 mission.

She then propelled the Orion capsule, empty, to the Moon, during a test mission of just over 25 days. The capsule had successfully returned to Earth in December.

All "active" astronauts (there are currently 41) were officially eligible to be part of Artemis 2. But the selection process was kept top secret.

Unchosen astronauts can take comfort in hoping to be selected for Artemis 3, which will be the first mission to land on the Moon. This mission is officially scheduled for the end of 2025, even if the timetable is very uncertain at this stage. A mission for Mars could be sent by 2040.

04/04/2023 00:26:59 - Houston (United States) (AFP) - © 2023 AFP