NASA names first woman and black astronaut headed to the moon

4 Apr 2023

From left: Christina Hammock Koch, Reid Wiseman (seated), Victor Glover, and Jeremy Hansen. Image: Josh Valcarcel/NASA

Christina Hammock Koch and Victor Glover are set to make history as the first woman and person of colour on a crewed lunar mission.

The four astronauts who will travel around the moon in a capsule as part of NASA’s Artemis II mission have now been named, including the first woman and the first black person to ever embark on a lunar mission.

Christina Hammock Koch, Victor Glover, Reid Wiseman and Jeremy Hanson will blast off towards the moon either late next year or in early 2025 to pave the way for an eventual touchdown on Earth’s only natural satellite on a later mission.

NASA started the Artemis project with the aim to establish a long-term presence of humans on our nearest celestial neighbour and, eventually, on Mars. Artemis II will conduct a human spaceflight test and fly a capsule around the moon for the first time since the Apollo 8 mission in 1968.

“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 Bill Nelson, NASA administrator.

“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.”

In Greek mythology, Artemis is the twin sister of Apollo – who inspired the name for NASA’s previous ‘manned’ missions to the moon between 1969 and 1972.

While Koch is a mission specialist in the crew, Glover is the pilot. Together, they represent NASA’s plan to diversify their space exploration efforts as all previous crewed missions to the moon have been white men.

“All four astronauts will represent the best of humanity as they explore for the benefit of all,” said Vanessa Wyche, director of the NASA Johnson Space Center.

“This mission paves the way for the expansion of human deep space exploration and presents new opportunities for scientific discoveries, commercial, industry and academic partnerships.”

In December, NASA successfully completed the uncrewed Artemis I mission, a 25-day journey to the moon and back that was NASA’s first human-capable deep space mission in half a century.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic