NASA announces astronauts for Artemis, including first woman on moon
NASA has named 18 astronauts, including nine women, who will start training for the United States space agency's Artemis missions to the moon. The as-yet-unnamed first woman and the next man on the moon will come from this group of astronauts. With the Artemis program, NASA aims to return to the moon in 2024, however, observers say the target is unlikely to be achieved.
Vice President introduced astronauts at Florida's Kennedy Space Center
US Vice President Mike Pence introduced the astronauts at the end of his final meeting as chairperson of the National Space Council held at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The announcement was notably made beneath one of only three remaining Saturn V moon rockets from the 1960s and 1970s Apollo program. During the announcement, Pence recalled the late Apollo 17 commander Gene Cernan.
'We're going to honor Gene Cernan's memory'
Cernan, the last of the 12 men to walk on the moon, wanted nothing more than to remove the "last" from his title, Pence said. Cernan's final lunar footsteps were on December 14, 1972. "He spent the rest of his natural life advocating for America to go back to the moon, and we are going to honor Gene Cernan's memory," said the Vice President.
Five selected astronauts greeted crowd after announcement
Following the announcement, five of the 18 selected astronauts walked onto the stage, waving at the small crowd. Out of the 18, half have spaceflight experience, including two—Kate Rubins and Victor Glover—who are currently at the International Space Station (ISS). Astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir, who had performed last year's first all-female spacewalk, are also among those selected.
Group mostly includes astronauts in their 30s/40s
Other experienced members on the list include Kjell Lindgren, Anne McClain, and Scott Tingle—all former space station residents—while Kayla Barron, Raja Chari, Matthew Dominick, Woody Hoburg, Jonny Kim, Nicole Mann, Jasmin Moghbeli, Frank Rubio, and Jessica Watkins have never been to space. The group mostly includes astronauts in their 30s or 40s, with the youngest being 32 and the oldest being 55.