NASA has big plans for the future of space travel. Taking what they’ve learned from the Apollo missions, they’re planning to go back to the Moon to stay.
Artemis, Apollo’s twin sister, will not only be the program to lead the way, but it will also put the first woman and person of color on the Moon. NASA will collaborate with commercial and international partners in order to make this happen.
Nine of the 18 selected astronauts are women.
Among the astronauts announced today is one of the five NASA crewmembers currently living and working in orbit. Kate Rubins was selected in the astronaut class of 2009 and arrived at the International Space Station in October for a six-month stint. The flight is her second; she also flew in 2016. During that mission, Rubins became the first scientist to sequence DNA in orbit.
The Artemis astronaut cadre also includes Christina Koch, who was selected to train as an astronaut in 2013 and has flown to space once, spending 328 days in the second-longest single flight by an American astronaut in 2019 and 2020. During her time in orbit, she participated in six spacewalks, including three with colleague Jessica Meir that were the first all-women spacewalks. Before becoming an astronaut, she completed a winter-long stay at Antarctica’s South Pole Station.
Meir is also among the new Artemis astronauts; she was selected in the 2013 astronaut class and has made one spaceflight, in 2019 and 2020, during which she conducted three spacewalks with Koch. Before joining NASA, Meir was a biologist; she has raised and trained bar-headed geese and dived in the Antarctic, among other adventures.
Meir looked back on those historic spacewalks for perspective on what becoming the first woman on the moon would mean for her or a colleague, comparing that with how she and Koch felt about their spacewalks.
“To us, it isn’t really a personal achievement for us, it is paying homage and tribute to the generations of women and other minorities that really were the boundary-pushers that truly broke those glass ceilings to let us be here today,” Meir said. “The great thing for us now is it just seems normal: We’re all going to go together to the moon.”
In the same class as Koch and Meir is Anne McClain, who spent time in orbit with Koch during her first flight, in 2018 and 2019, during which she completed two spacewalks. Before joining NASA, McClain served in the Army.
Once there, astronauts will study the surface of the Moon, establish sustainable exploration, and then prepare to go to Mars.
Today our calling to explore is even greater than it was almost 50 years ago. To go farther we must be able to sustain missions of greater distance and duration.
We must use the resources we find at our destinations and overcome everything from radiation and gravity to extreme environments.
The new SLS rocket that will take us back to the Moon is the most powerful rocket NASA has ever built. NASA is developing a whole new approach to landing and operating on the Moon.
Using our commercial partners to deliver science instruments and robotics to the surface, NASA is paving the way for human missions.
Our charge is to go quickly and to stay. To press our collective efforts forward with a fervor that will see us return to the Moon that is entirely different than what we did 50 years ago.
You can see it all unfold at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Make sure to plan your visit so you don’t miss seeing the next giant leap in human achievement.