Artemis II: NASA will reveal which four astronauts it tapped for a trip to the moon

(CNN) Four astronauts — including three Americans and one Canadian — have been tapped by NASA to complete a generation-defining mission to orbit the moon, returning humans deeper into the solar system than has been reached in five decades.

On Monday, the public will finally learn the names of the team members.

Scheduled to launch in 2024, Artemis II will be the program’s first crewed mission to orbit the Moon, the first human spaceflight since the Apollo program. This will pave the way for the Artemis III crew to walk on the moon in 2025. The most powerful rocket in the world And at a price it’s approachable $100 billion.

Following months of closed-door decision-making, NASA officials plan to announce the names of the crew members at a ceremony scheduled for Monday at 11 a.m. ET.

Although officials have been tight-lipped about their choices, CNN previously spoke with nearly a dozen current and former NASA officials and astronauts. Drag the screen Secret selection process.

Names with buzz

Reed Wiseman, a 47-year-old decorated Navy aviator and test pilot who was first selected as a NASA astronaut in 2009, tops the list, according to CNN’s Pioneer. Reporting.

Wiseman will serve as the head of the Astronaut Office until November 2022. Although he is not allowed to fly while holding the chief post, he can perform better flight duties once he leaves the post, which the former says is an “agreed perk” of the job. NASA astronaut Garrett Reisman.

NASA astronaut Reed Wiseman poses for a portrait while training in Russia.

Before stepping down as astronaut chief, Weisman was responsible for the decision to expand the team of flight-eligible astronauts to include himself. When NASA initially considered 18 astronauts Wiseman expanded the pool of candidates to include all 41 active NASA astronauts to become the “Artemis Team” and be eligible to fly on lunar missions.

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People familiar with the process told CNN that, along with Weisman, there are a handful of candidates on the list:

  • Randy Bresnick, 55, is a decorated Navy aviator and test pilot who flew combat missions in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He has made two trips to the International Space Station: one on the Space Shuttle and the other on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft. Bresnik is often cited as Artemis’ top competitor because, as of 2018, he oversees the astronaut office’s development and testing of all rockets and spacecraft used on Artemis missions.
  • Anne McClain, 43, is a decorated military pilot and West Point graduate who flew more than 200 combat missions in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and graduated from the U.S. Navy’s Test Pilot School in 2013, the same year he was selected for NASA. Space. After launching aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft in 2018, he spent more than 200 days aboard the International Space Station and served as the lead on two spacewalks.
  • Stephanie Wilson He is the oldest astronaut on this list. The 56-year-old joined NASA’s 1996 astronaut class and served as a mission specialist on three space shuttles, including the first flight since the 2003 Columbia disaster that killed seven astronauts.
  • Christina Koch, 44, is a veteran of six spacewalks. She holds the record for the longest single spacewalk by a woman with a total of 328 days in space. Koch was an electrical engineer who helped develop scientific instruments for many NASA missions. She has spent a year at the South Pole, a tough shelter that will prepare her well for the rigors of a trip to the moon.
  • Jessica Meyer He is a 45-year-old biologist with a doctorate from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. He was a member of the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) in 2002, spending days at an underwater research facility, and in 2016, completing two weeks. Caving work In Italy.
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Co-hosted by Koch and Mir The first three all-female spacewalks In 2019 and 2020.

Rounding out the Artemis II crew is an astronaut from Canada, terms confirmed in a 2020 agreement between the two countries.

The Canadian Space Agency’s current A Just four astronautsBut among them, Jeremy Hansen As reported by CNN, it has created quite a stir. Hansen was chosen as an astronaut almost 14 years ago, but he is still waiting for his first flight mission. The 47-year-old fighter pilot recently became the first Canadian in charge of training for a new class of NASA astronauts.

Greater representation in space

NASA has previously committed to selecting a team with racial, gender and professional diversity.

Those criteria have historically been absent for top jobs. Going back to the Gemini era, the astronauts selected for the inaugural crew missions were white and male, and usually came from a background as a military test pilot — as noted in the 1979 book “The Right Stuff” by Tom Wolfe.

It has become a reality through NASA The most recent inaugural crew aircraftSpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule to the International Space Station in 2020, including former military test pilots Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley.

The same is likely true for the Artemis II mission: Nearly a dozen current and former NASA officials and astronauts told CNN they expected more test pilots to be named.

However, Wiseman said, if a white man is elected, the other points must surely go to at least one woman and at least one person.

What’s next for Artemis?

Artemis II Mission Artemis I, a Ungrouped experimental task It sent NASA’s Orion capsule on a 1.4 million-mile journey to lap the moon that ended in December. The space agency deemed the mission a success and is still working to review all the data collected.

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If all goes according to plan, Artemis II will lift off in November 2024. Crew members, built inside the Orion spacecraft, will launch on a NASA-built Space Launch System rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The trip is expected to last about 10 days, and although the exact distance has yet to be determined, it will send a crew further beyond the Moon than any human has traveled in history.

“The exact distance beyond the Moon depends on the day of liftoff and the Moon’s relative distance from Earth during the trip,” NASA spokeswoman Kathryn Hambleton said by email.

After orbiting the Moon, the spacecraft will return to Earth to land in the Pacific Ocean.

Artemis II is expected to pave the way for the Artemis III mission later this decade, which NASA has vowed will put the first woman and person of color on the lunar surface. It will also be the first time humans have landed on the moon since the end of the Apollo program in 1972.

The Artemis III mission is expected to launch later this decade. But including most of the technologies required for the task Space suits For walking on the moon and a Lunar Lander Transporting astronauts to the surface of the Moon is still under development.

NASA aims to a 2025 release date For Artemis III, the space agency’s inspector general had already said delays would push the mission back. 2026 or later.

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