NASA Picks First Woman, Black Man For Moon Mission

For the first time since space programs began, NASA has named a Black man and a woman to the crew of a lunar mission. NASA made the announcement on April 3 at an event near Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

Mission Specialist 1 Christina Hammock Koch, an electrical engineer, holds the record for the longest continuous time in space by a woman. In October 2019, she also participated in the first all-female spacewalk.

Pilot Victor Glover is part of the long tradition of U.S. Navy test pilots to join the ranks of NASA, which he did in 2013. He’s since logged over six months on the International Space Station.

The pair will join two other suitably square-jawed astronauts on the Artemis II mission — Commander Reid Wiseman and Canadian Space Agency astronaut Mission Specialist 2 Jeremy Hansen. Of the four, only Hansen has never been to space.

“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,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said at the event.


Stepping stone

The Artemis II mission is the latest stepping stone back to the moon and, from there, to Mars. The mission will send the four astronauts slingshotting around the moon in preparation for future manned missions to the surface.

“For the first time in more than 50 years, these individuals –- the Artemis II crew –- will be the first humans to fly to the vicinity of the moon,” said Vanessa Wyche, Director of the Johnson Space Center.

The 10-day mission, launching late in 2024, will “[use] the agency’s powerful Space Launch System rocket, prove the Orion spacecraft’s life-support systems, and validate the capabilities and techniques needed for humans to live and work in deep space,” according to a NASA press release.

a man uses a small tool to work on a large piece of curved metal.

A technician puts the finishing touches on the core stage of the Space Launch System, the booster that will send the Artemis II crew into space. Photo: NASA


Artemis II is the first human-piloted excursion in NASA’s Artemis mission sequence. In Greek mythology, Artemis is the bow-wielding, deer-hunting, bad-ass moon goddess twin sister of Apollo.

The Apollo missions famously delivered Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin to the moon’s surface on July 16, 1969. Human missions to the lunar surface ended in 1972, beginning a drought that will hopefully end when the crew of the Artemis III lands there in 2025.

Of the 24 people who’ve been to the moon between 1968 and 1972, only four still live — Aldrin, David Scott, Charles Duke, and Harrison Schmitt. It’s exciting to think their numbers will once again begin to grow.

Andrew Marshall

Andrew Marshall is an award-winning painter, photographer, and freelance writer. Andrew’s essays, illustrations, photographs, and poems can be found scattered across the web and in a variety of extremely low-paying literary journals.
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