Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon in 1969, but who will be the first woman?
NASA offered a great clue this week as it officially unveiled the team of astronauts eligible for the next planned lunar landing mission as part of the Artemis program.
The 18 astronauts, nine women and nine men (some in the photo below), were introduced by Vice President Mike Pence at this week’s National Space Council meeting at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
“I present to you the heroes who will take us to the moon and beyond: the Artemis generation,” Pence said, adding: “It is amazing to think that the next man and the first woman on the moon are among the names we just read. . . Team Artemis astronauts are the future of American space exploration, and that future is bright. “
NASA Artemis astronauts come from a wide range of backgrounds, knowledge, and experience. Some have traveled to space before, while others have yet to experience their first adventure outside of Earth.
Kate Rubins, for example, was selected as an astronaut in 2009 and is currently aboard the International Space Station. Rubins was the first person to sequence DNA in space and has done two spacewalks to date.
Kayla Barron, on the other hand, has yet to embark on a space mission. Selected by NASA in 2017, Barron earned a master’s degree in nuclear engineering and, in addition to her astronaut credentials, is also a lieutenant commander in the US Navy.
A list showing the names of the 18 Artemis astronauts is available on the NASA website.
NASA had hoped to put the first woman and the next man on the lunar surface in 2024, but a recent report from the space agency indicated that funding issues, rising costs, and scheduling delays may cause the date be late.
Before returning humans to the moon, NASA must first conduct a successful unmanned test flight to our closest neighbor using its SLS rocket and the Orion spacecraft, followed by a manned flyby of the moon. You also have to build your Lunar Gateway space station in lunar orbit to transport astronauts and equipment to the lunar surface, while also selecting and then building a layout for the all-important lunar lander.
“We have a lot of exciting work ahead of us as we return to the moon, and it will take the entire corps of astronauts to make that happen,” Chief Astronaut Pat Forrester said this week. “Walking on the lunar surface would be a dream come true for any of us, and any part we can play to achieve it is an honor. I am proud of this particular group of men and women and I know that any of them would do an outstanding job representing NASA and the United States on a future Artemis mission. “