(CNN) Four astronauts — including three Americans and one Canadian — will be selected by NASA to complete the generational 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 get to know the names of the crew members.
Scheduled for launch in 2024, Artemis II will be the program’s first crewed mission to orbit the Moon, and fly farther into space than any human since the Apollo program. It will pave the way for the Artemis III crew to walk on the moon in 2025, all aboard The most powerful missile in the world And the price will approach by then $100 billion.
After months of closed-door decisions, NASA officials plan to reveal the names of the crew members at a ceremony scheduled for Monday at 11 a.m. ET.
Although officials have remained tight-lipped about their options, CNN previously spoke with nearly a dozen current and former NASA officials and astronauts for the Pull the curtain back in the secret selection process.
Names with pretentiousness
Reed Wiseman, a 47-year-old decorated naval pilot and test pilot who was first selected to be a NASA astronaut in 2009, is at the top of the list, according to the CNN ex. reports.
Weisman served as chief of the astronaut office until November 2022. While the president is not permitted to fly while holding the position, they are able to discuss the best flight missions upon stepping down, which is a “recognized perk” of the job, according to former NASA astronaut Garrett Reisman.
Before stepping down as chief astronaut, Weisman was also responsible for the decision to expand the pool of astronauts eligible to fly in order to include himself. While initially considered by NASA 18 astronauts To be “Team Artemis” and eligible to fly lunar missions, Weisman expanded the pool of candidates to all 41 active NASA astronauts.
People familiar with the process told CNN that besides Weizmann, there are a few other candidates at the top of the list:
- Victor Glovera 46-year-old naval pilot who returned to Earth from his first spaceflight in 2021 after Commanding the second crewed flight of SpaceX Dragon spacecraft and spend nearly six months aboard the International Space Station. The veteran of four spacewalks earned a master’s degree in engineering while serving as a test pilot.
- Randy BresnikThe 55-year-old is also a decorated Marine Aviator and test pilot who has flown combat missions in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He’s made two trips to the International Space Station: one on the space shuttle, and one on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft. Bresnik is often cited as a top contender to Artemis because, since 2018, he has overseen the cosmonaut office’s development and testing of all rockets and spacecraft to be used on Artemis missions.
- Anne McClainThe 43-year-old is a decorated military pilot and West Point graduate who has flown more than 200 combat missions in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and graduated from the US Navy Pilot School in 2013, the same year she was selected to be a member of NASA. astronaut. After launching aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft in 2018, she has spent more than 200 days on the International Space Station and has led two spacewalks.
- Stephanie Wilson He is the oldest astronaut on this list. The 56-year-old joined NASA’s astronaut class in 1996 and has served as a mission specialist on three space shuttle flights, including the first after the 2003 Columbia disaster, which claimed the lives of seven astronauts.
- Christina KochAt 44 years old, he is a veteran of six spacewalks. She holds the record for the longest solo spaceflight by a woman, totaling 328 days in space. Koch is also an electrical engineer who has helped develop science instruments for multiple NASA missions. She’s also spent a year at the South Pole, a grueling stay that could prepare her well for the intensity of the moon mission.
- Jessica Meir A 45-year-old biologist with a PhD from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. She was a member of NASA’s Extreme Environment Operations (NEEMO) mission in 2002, which included spending days at an underwater research facility, and in 2016, she completed a two-week caving task In Italy.
Koch and Meir performed together The first of three women’s spacewalks in 2019 and 2020.
The Artemis II crew will have one astronaut from Canada, terms that were cemented in a 2020 treaty between the two countries.
The Canadian Space Agency currently has it A cadre of only four astronautsbut between them Jeremy Hansen has generated the most uproar, CNN reports. Hansen was chosen to be an astronaut almost 14 years ago, but he’s still waiting for his first flight mission. The 47-year-old fighter pilot recently became the first Canadian to be put in charge of training a new class of NASA astronauts.
More representation in space
NASA has also previously committed to selecting a racially, gender, and professionally diverse crew.
Historically, these standards have not been the case for high-level missions. Back in the Gemini era, the astronauts chosen for the inaugural crewed missions were all white and male, usually coming from a background as a military test pilot—a profile featured most notably in the 1979 book The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe.
This was achieved by NASA The latest flight with an editorial crewfrom the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule to the International Space Station in 2020, which included former military test pilots Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley.
And that may be mostly true of the Artemis II mission, too: Nearly a dozen current and former NASA officials and astronauts told CNN that they expected to name multiple test pilots.
However, if Wiseman, who is a white man, is chosen, that means other sites will almost certainly need to go to at least one woman and at least one person of color.
What’s next for Artemis?
The Artemis II mission will build on Artemis I, and Unmanned test mission That sent NASA’s Orion capsule on a 1.4-million-mile journey around the moon that ended in December. The space agency has deemed this mission a success and is still reviewing all of the data collected.
If all goes as planned, Artemis II will lift off around November 2024. Tethered inside the Orion spacecraft, the crew members will launch atop a NASA-developed Space Launch System rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The flight is expected to last about 10 days and will send the crew beyond the moon, possibly farther than any human being in history has traveled, though the exact distance has yet to be determined.
“The exact distance beyond the moon will depend on the day of liftoff and the moon’s relative distance from Earth at the time of the mission,” NASA spokeswoman Katherine Hambleton said via 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 pledged to put the first woman and person of color on the moon. It will be the first time humans have landed on the moon since the Apollo program ended in 1972.
The Artemis III mission is expected to launch later this decade. But much of the technology the mission will require, incl space suits To walk on the moon and Lunar lander To carry astronauts to the lunar surface, it is still under development.
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