ESA Welcomes Announcement of Next Astronauts to the Moon

Artemis Gateway orbiting the moon. (Credit: NASA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Yesterday NASA announced the names of the 18 astronauts that will support the Artemis Programme and may be assigned to lunar missions. 

The Artemis team is a group of astronauts that will help pave the way for the next lunar missions including sending the first woman and next man to walk on the Moon in 2024.

NASA’s administrator Jim Bridenstine said: “We are excited to share this next step in exploration – naming the Artemis Team of astronauts who will lead the way, which includes the first woman and next man to walk on the lunar surface.”

Artemis astronauts will fly in Orion, the next-generation deep space human spacecraft. While enroute to the Moon and during their return to Earth the European Service Module will keep the astronauts alive, providing water, air, electricity and a comfortable temperature. The European Service Module is the powerhouse of Orion and a critical element to the Artemis programme and ESA is the first international agency to have agreed its astronauts to fly on Orion.

ESA’s director of Human and Robotic Exploration David Parker says: “We welcome these 18 Artemis astronauts and look forward for ESA astronauts to fly to the Gateway in the future with their NASA colleagues.

“We extend an open invitation to the Artemis team to visit the integration hall of Orion’s European Service Module in Bremen, Germany, to get a first-hand view of the hardware that will propel them to our natural satellite and keep them comfortable in deep space to fulfil humankind’s lunar missions and beyond.”

Gateway

Only 12 humans have walked on the lunar surface, all were men, all were from the USA, and most were test pilots. Future Moon explorers will be much more diverse with a variety of professional backgrounds and flight experiences. The missions will be more sustainable, they will no longer be one-shot affairs as space agencies seek more sustained presence.

The Artemis astronauts will not only work on the Moon but also around it on the Gateway, running science and communicating discoveries to all on Earth. ESA is building key modules for the Gateway that will provide refuelling and communications and a habitat for the astronauts. ESA is also exploring designs for new spacecraft, focusing on science and resupply missions.

“ESA and NASA are going to the Moon and beyond as partners and we look forward to working with the Artemis team and taking part in humankind’s greatest adventure of exploration,” concludes David Parker.