NASA, Canada assign astronauts to Artemis 2 Moon mission
The Artemis 2 astronauts were announced in Houston, marking the first time in the 21st century a human crew has been assigned to fly a mission to the Moon.
Artemis 2, set to launch atop a Space Launch System rocket as early as November 2024, will be a follow up test flight to the highly successful uncrewed Artemis 1 mission, which saw an Orion spacecraft fly around the Moon late last year.
The astronauts assigned to the flight are NASA astronauts Reid Wiseman as commander, Victor Glover as pilot and Christina Koch as a mission specialist, as well as Canadian Space Agency astronaut Jeremy Hansen as a mission specialist.
“The Artemis II 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.”
The announcement occurred just after 11 a.m. EDT April 3, 2023, at Ellington Field near NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
Wiseman, 47, has flown into space once before during the International Space Station Expedition 40/41 increment in 2014. He has spent a total of 165 days in space with nearly 13 hours of spacewalking time, according to NASA. He was also the chief of the Astronaut office from December 2020 to November 2022.
This will be 46-year-old Glover’s second spaceflight. His first occurred during the Crew-1 mission where he served aboard the ISS for 168 days as part of Expedition 64. During his time in space, he performed four spacewalks culminating in more than totaling more than 26 hours working outside the orbital outpost.
For Koch, 44, this will be her second time in space. Her first was for 328 days aboard the ISS from March 2019 to February 2020, setting the record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman. She also participated in the first all-female spacewalk.
Hansen, 47, has been an astronaut since 2009, but has not yet flown into space. Artemis 2 will be his first mission. He’ll also be the first Canadian to fly into deep space.
“We are going back to the Moon and Canada is at the center of this exciting journey,” said the Honorable François-Philippe Champagne, the minister responsible for the Canadian Space Agency. “Thanks to our longstanding collaboration with NASA, a Canadian astronaut will fly on this historic mission. On behalf of all Canadians, I want to congratulate Jeremy for being at the forefront of one of the most ambitious human endeavors ever undertaken. Canada’s participation in the Artemis program is not only a defining chapter of our history in space, but also a testament to the friendship and close partnership between our two nations.”
Together, these four will be the first people since December 1972 to travel farther into space than just several hundred miles above Earth. Their mission will be a 10-day flight that will include an eight-day free-return trajectory around the Moon.
The Artemis 2 astronauts will not go into orbit around the Moon or land on its surface. That will be a task for the Artemis 3 mission, likely not before 2026.
Instead, this will be a flyby, rather than an orbit profile similar to the Artemis 1 mission, because the first two days of the mission will involve the Space Launch System upper stage — the interim cryogenic propulsion stage, ICPS — placing the Orion spacecraft into a 59,000 mile (95,000 kilometer) elliptical high Earth orbit in order to allow Orion’s crew to check out is various systems, including life support and communications.
During this high Earth orbit, the Artemis 2 astronauts will manually fly Orion near the ICPS to perform a proximity operations demonstration sequence.
Once Orion gets close to Earth again, the engine on the European Service Module will propel the capsule and crew onto an eight-day free-return trajectory (four days outbound and four days inbound). This will take them to around 6,500 miles (10,000 kilometers) beyond the far side of the Moon — nearly 250,000 miles (400,000 kilometers) away from Earth.
Four days after the lunar flyby, the crew will fall back into Earth’s atmosphere above the Pacific Ocean at some 25,000 miles (40,000 kilometers) per hour, which will slow the vehicle down to about 320 miles (520 kilometers) per hour.
A series of parachutes culminating with three main chutes will deploy, allowing the capsule to softly splash down just off the coast of San Diego or Baja California where they’ll be recovered by the U.S. Navy and flown back to shore.
Video courtesy of NASA
Video courtesy of Orbital Velocity
Derek Richardson has a degree in mass media, with an emphasis in contemporary journalism, from Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. While at Washburn, he was the managing editor of the student run newspaper, the Washburn Review. He also has a website about human spaceflight called Orbital Velocity. You can find him on twitter @TheSpaceWriter.