The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has named 18 astronauts – half of whom are women – selected for the Artemis lunar landing training program.
The first woman in the world to visit the moon will be chosen from among the members of this elite group.
Vice President Mike Pence introduced the astronauts on Wednesday at the end of the last meeting he held as chairman of the US National Space Council. Meeting the past at the Space Center. Kennedy in Florida, under one of three Saturn-5 rockets, with which American astronauts visited the moon several times as part of the Apollo program, which was implemented by NASA in the 1960s and 1970s.
Mike Pence recalled that the late Apollo 17 commander Gene Cernan, the last of the 12 Americans to visit the moon, would not want the word “last” to remain forever in his rank. Cernan took his final step on the lunar surface on December 14, 1972.
“He spent the rest of his life advocating for America’s return to the moon, and we now honor Gene Cernan’s memory,” Pence said in front of a small group of councilors and five astronauts.
NASA head Jim Bridenstein stressed that the number of participants in the training program will definitely be replenished. NASA currently employs 47 astronauts.
The space agency plans to carry out a flight to the moon no later than 2024, although the chances of this are diminishing. The forthcoming change of administration also adds uncertainty.
Half of NASA’s astronauts have previously traveled to space. Two of them, Keith Rubins and Victor Glover, are now aboard the International Space Station. Most of the participants in the training group are between 30 and 40 years old, the oldest participant is 55 years old, the youngest is 32.
Other seasoned astronauts include Kjell Lindgren, Anne McClain and Scott Tingle, who have already visited the ISS.