NASA will soon reveal the four lucky astronauts that will be sent on a flyby of the moon in the Artemis II mission.
The four crewmembers — three from NASA and one from the Canadian Space Agency — will be named on Monday, April 3, NASA chief Bill Nelson announced in a tweet on Thursday.
Artemis II is currently targeted for November 2024 and will use NASA’s recently tested Space Launch System (SLS) rocket to power the crew toward the moon aboard an Orion spacecraft.
Following the same route as last year’s Artemis I mission that tested the new spaceflight hardware, the four astronauts will come within just 80 miles of the lunar surface in what will be the first crewed voyage to the moon in five decades. It will also fly humans further from Earth than ever before, to a point about 270,000 miles away.
If everything goes to plan, NASA intends to land the first woman and first person of color on the lunar surface as part of the Artemis III mission, which could take place within two years of Artemis II.
Both missions will take NASA and its counterparts another step closer to building a permanent astronaut base on the moon, paving the way for long-duration missions similar to how astronauts currently live and work aboard the International Space Station in low-Earth orbit.
The expectation is that research and development projects on the moon will help NASA prepare for the first crewed mission to Mars, which could take place in the 2030s. Crewed Mars missions could even launch from the lunar surface using a rocket powered by fuel converted from lunar water.
In related news, NASA also said that it will reveal its next-generation spacesuits in a special event on Wednesday, March 15.
The spacesuits, developed by Texas-based Axiom Space, will be worn by the Artemis III astronauts when they set foot on the lunar surface.
Using more than 50 years of spacesuit expertise, NASA created the technical and safety requirements for the new spacesuits. Axiom Space then worked with these guidelines to build the suits and associated support equipment.
“New spacesuits that allow humans to explore the lunar surface advance our capability for human exploration in space,” NASA said.
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