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NASA announces four astronauts who will travel around the moon on Artemis II

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(NEW YORK) — NASA and the Canadian Space Agency announced Monday the four astronauts who will partake in the next Artemis mission and fly around the moon.

The Artemis II team will be made up of three Americans — Victor Glover, Christina Hammock Koch and Reid Wiseman — and one Canadian, Jeremy Hansen.

The team includes Koch as the first woman and Glover as the first person of color who will eventually go on to step foot on the lunar surface. Glover will be the pilot of the spacecraft and Wiseman will be the commander of Artemis II.

The agencies made the announcement at a media event at the NASA Johnson Space Center’s Ellington Field in Houston, Texas.

“We are here today with the mission to introduce the world to the crew of Artemis II for names, for explorers, for my friends, answering the call to once more rocket away from Earth, and chart a course around the moon,” Joe Acaba, chief of NASA’s astronaut office, said at the start of the event.

Glover, 46, will be the first person of color to voyage to the moon. Glover was selected by NASA as an astronaut in 2013 and most recently served as a pilot and second-in-command on the Crew-1 SpaceX Crew Dragon in 2020.

He has spent roughly 167 days in space. According to NASA, Glover was the first African American astronaut to join a long-duration expedition crew aboard the International Space Station.

“We need to celebrate this moment in human history because Artemis II is more than a mission to the moon and back,” Glover said. “It’s more than a mission that has to happen before we send people to the surface of the moon. It is the next step on the journey that gets humanity to Mars and this crew, we’ll never forget that.”

Koch, 43, made history with fellow astronaut Jessica Mer in October 2019 when they performed the first all-female spacewalk together.

Koch was also selected as an astronaut in 2013 and has completed six spacewalks. She currently holds the record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman at 328 days.

“We’re not going to go to the moon right away,” she said. “We’re gonna stay in an amazing high orbit, reaching a peak of tens of thousands of miles while we test out all the systems on Orion and even see how it maneuvers in space. And then if everything looks good, we’re heading to the moon.”

Wiseman, 47, is a decorated naval aviator who was selected to be an astronaut in June 2009.

In 2014, he served as a flight engineer aboard the International Space Station and, over a 165-day mission, completed more than 300 experiments with his crewmates. Wiseman recently served as chief of the astronaut office, but stepped down in November because the chief is unable to fly in space.

Hansen, 47, was a fighter pilot before he joined the CSA and he currently helps NASA with astronaut training and mission operations.

Not only will this be Hansen’s first mission in space but he will also be the first Canadian to ever travel to the moon.

President Joe Biden congratulated the team in a tweet Monday, which included a video of him speaking with the Artemis II team.

“Look, I want to thank you for your incredible service,” Biden said in the clip. “The mission you’re about to go on, the United States can return people to the moon. It’s hard to believe for the first time in over 50 years.”

It comes after the Artemis I mission was completed in December last year after spending 25.5 days in space and making a 1.4-million-mile journey around the moon, according to NASA.

Artemis I was the first step of NASA’s ambitious plan to establish a long-term presence on the moon and, later on, to send a crewed shuttle to Mars.

Artemis II is scheduled to send four astronauts into space in 2024 for a lunar flyby before returning to Earth.

It will be the first crewed mission aboard NASA’s new Orion spacecraft and the first to launch on the agency’s new heavy-lift rocket, the Space Launch System.

“With Artemis I, we set out to prove that the hardware was ready, that SLS was prepared to launch our astronauts skyward, that Orion was equipped to carry them to the moon and back safely again,” said Norman Knight, director of Flight Operations Directorate at NASA. “Artemis I was a resounding success and Artemis II will leverage that by putting humans in the loop.”

The mission will take approximately 10 days, but the system will need to undergo massive amounts of testing first to make sure it can support humans living and working in deep space, NASA said.

This will be the first set of missions that NASA has used to send a crew to the moon since the Apollo 17 mission in December 1972, more than 50 years ago.

The mission broke several records including the longest spacewalk and largest lunar samples brought back to Earth and also involved several experiments, including sending five mice into space with the crew.

“Over the course of the Artemis missions, the first woman and the first person of color will take giant leaps, on the lunar surface,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.

In total, the Artemis expedition includes four missions, each of which will cost roughly $4.1 billion. The project will cost up to $93 billion by 2025, according to an audit from the NASA Office of the Inspector General.

Artemis III plans to send four astronauts to the moon in 2025 while Artemis IV plans to be the second lunar landing in 2027.

In addition to setting up a permanent base camp on the moon, the program aims to be the gateway to eventual human missions to Mars.

“Under Artemis, we will explore the frontiers of space and push the boundaries of what’s possible,” said Vanessa Wyche, director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center. “You may walk on the moon or be one of the many explorers who venture onward to Mars. We’re all looking forward to you being a part of our mission.”

ABC News’ Gina Sunseri contributed to this report.

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