Most of you know that I am a space enthusiast and as such write a lot about our Space Programs. I love it and what we can learn from pursuing it.
Last week I had the pleasure to tour the Kennedy Space Center Museum with my sister. It was a spectacular exhibit. I have previously written about the various Mars Rovers (Perseverance launched in 2020 and Curiosity launched in 2012) and got to see the mock-ups of all of them during my visit. There was an IMAX flick that was superb and highlighted a lot of what we have learned about space from these ventures that have now nearly become commonplace. The displays were perfection! The food was not the best, but then that could have been because the ravens were diving onto the basket of fries on our table and helping themselves. It was crazy!
Back to Artemis II. Artemis is about creating a long-term community on the moon. Artemis II will be a ten-day experimental launch circumnavigating the moon with a four-person crew to ensure that all systems are working as planned. It will use the SLS (Space Launch System) rocket and the Orion Spacecraft in tandem. It marks the first time these are launched manned together.
Artemis I did the same as Artemis II is going to do only without astronauts. They launched in 2022 from Launch Complex 39B at the Kennedy Space Center and both will lead us to the launch of Artemis III in 2024.
Artemis III will attempt to establish a long-term presence on the moon for humans that can lead to exploring Mars and more. NASA hopes to do this yearly.
Let’s meet the crew for Artemis II. Reid Wiseman will be the Commander. He has been with NASA as an astronaut since 2009 and hails from Baltimore, Maryland. Wiseman attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York for his undergraduate degree (1997) and Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore for his graduate degree in Systems Engineering. Wiseman is also a Naval Aviator earning his wings in 1999.
Victor J. Glover is a pilot for the Artemis II mission into space. He has been an astronaut with NASA since 2013 and previously piloted the Space X Crew-1 mission to the International Space Station. Glover is a native Californian. His undergraduate degree is in General Engineering and his graduate degrees (dual Masters) are in Military Operational Art and Flight Test Engineering. Glover was also a Naval Aviator with over 3,000 flight hours in 40 aircraft and a test pilot for the F/A-18 Hornet, EA-18G Growler, and the Super Hornet with more than 400 carrier arrested landings serving in twenty-four combat missions.
Mission Specialist Christina Koch was born in Michigan but lived her formative years in Jacksonville, North Carolina. She has been an astronaut with NASA since 2013. Her undergraduate degrees are both from North Carolina State in Electrical Engineering (2001) and Physics with a master’s in electrical engineering from same in 2002. Koch was a Flight Engineer aboard the International Space Station Expeditions 59 through 61 and set the record for flight for a woman lasting a whopping 328 days. She stood as a research associate in the US Antarctic Program (2004-07) and spent a year at the Palmer Station in the South Pole. She has done many extreme things and been awarded several prestigious honors.
Mission Specialist Jeremy Hansen will be the first Canadian to go to circumnavigate the moon. Hansen was previously a fighter pilot serving in the 614th Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron and the 409th Tactical Fighter Squadron. He was a Combat Operations Officer at 4 various operations including NORAD. His undergraduate education is in space science from the Royal Military College of Canada and his master’s in physics. Hansen is multi-lingual (English, French, and Russian). Hansen was a crewmember for the NEEMO 19 project in Key Largo, Florida, and worked with the European Space Agency’s CAVES program where he lived underground for six days in Italy. Extreme appears to be his middle name. He has been with NASA as lead astronaut trainer since 2017 and has been a recipient of numerous awards and honors.
Artemis II is groundbreaking in that it is the first extended circumnavigation of the moon by a woman and a man of color. But that is not all. It takes four days to reach the far side of the moon which is approximately 230,000 miles from the Earth. They will spend two days testing the equipment aboard the Orion and then take another four days of high speed coupled with high temperatures to come back to Earth’s atmosphere where they will splash down into the Pacific Ocean near San Diego.
If all goes well, which everyone hopes it does, Artemis III will begin preparation for launch and landing on the surface of the moon in 2024.