NASA has finally named the astronauts that will orbit the Moon during the Artemis 2 mission. Commander Reid Wiseman, Victor Glover and Christina Hammock Koch will fly for the US, while the Canadian Space Agency's Jeremy Hansen will represent his country. The crew will spend up to 21 days aboard an Orion capsule that will spend about 42 hours in high Earth orbit before touring the Moon and splashing down in the Pacific Ocean.
Hammock Koch is best known for the longest stay in space by a female astronaut. Wiseman, meanwhile, is a Navy pilot who was also a test pilot in the F-35 Lightning II program. Glover made history by participating in the first operational Crew Dragon mission in 2021. Hansen is a fighter pilot and one of four current Canadian astronauts.
If Artemis 2 remains on track, it should launch in November 2024 and will represent the first time humans have flown to the Moon since Apollo 17 in 1972. Artemis 1, an uncrewed lunar flyby mission, launched in November last year and broke an Apollo flight record with its roughly 26-day trip. People won't land on the Moon until Artemis 3's scheduled launch in December 2025. That mission will use a variant of SpaceX's Starship for the actual landing.
NASA has been steadily building publicity for Artemis in recent months. In March, it unveiled the spacesuit for the Artemis 3 landing. The Axiom Space-made prototype accommodates more body types and is more flexible, letting astronauts kneel and otherwise
The crew selection comes as NASA appears to have overcome the setbacks that plagued its Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, including engine trouble, fuel leaks, Hurricane Ian and Tropical Storm Nicole. With that said, the agency originally wanted an Artemis lunar landing in 2024. The current timeline assumes there won't be any significant technical hurdles, and there are no guarantees of that between SpaceX's ongoing Starship issues (it still hasn't conducted an orbital flight test) and the inherent challenges of putting people on the Moon.