On Monday, NASA named the four astronauts who will fly around the moon next year, including the first woman and first Black American assigned to a lunar mission.
The crew consists of three Americans and one Canadian who were introduced during a ceremony in Houston, home to the nation’s astronauts and Mission Control. The astronauts will fly NASA’s Orion capsule, launching atop a Space Launch System rocket from the Kennedy Space Center no earlier than late 2024.
Unlike the Apollo mission 50 years prior, the crew will not land or even go into lunar orbit but rather fly around the moon and head straight back to Earth.
The mission’s commander, Reid Wiseman, will be joined by Victor Glover, a Black American naval aviator; Christina Koch, who holds the world record for the longest spaceflight by a woman; and Canada’s Jeremy Hansen, a former fighter pilot.
The entire crew are all in their 40s and have all lived on the International Space Station.
The mission is also the first to include someone from outside the U.S., as the Canadian Space Agency received a seat because of its contributions to big robotic arms on NASA’s space shuttles and the space station.
“This is a big day. We have a lot to celebrate, and it’s so much more than the four names that have been announced,” says Glover at the Houston ceremony.
From 1968 through 1972, NASA sent 24 astronauts to the moon, with twelve of them landed. Provided this upcoming moonshot is a success, NASA aims to land two astronauts in the future.