NASA announced on April 3 that three Americans and one Canadian will be on the crew of the Artemis 2 mission, the first humans to travel beyond low Earth orbit in more than half a century.
During a ceremony at Ellington Airport near the Johnson Space Center here, Reed Wiseman will lead Artemis 2 as pilot Victor Glover, NASA announced. Christina Koch and Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen will be the mission experts.
Weisman, a former chief astronaut, flew to the International Space Station in 2014 for a 165-day mission. Glover flew to the ISS in late 2020 on a Crew-1 commercial crew mission for a six-month mission. Koch spent nearly a year in space on the ISS from March 2019 to February 2020. Hansen is one of only four active Canadian astronauts to make his maiden flight.
"A mission to the moon will send four pioneers, but it will carry more people than astronauts," NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said at the event, shortly before introducing the crew. "Artemis 2 will carry the trust of millions of people around the world."
Joe Agaba, NASA's current chief astronaut, and Norm Knight, director of flight operations at JSC, were selected under the supervision of the center's director, Vanessa Wyche. Officials at the event did not elaborate on the process by which they selected the four, beyond previously planning to have a Canadian on the four-person crew in exchange for Canadian contributions to the lunar entry.
In an interview after the announcement, Glover said he and other board members were told they were on the job at a meeting nearly a month ago. "It was a profound moment," he said. "I think we all have a strong sense of duty and realize that this is a very important part, but a very small part of a much bigger plan."
Training for the job does not begin until June, although some work-related activities such as pressure suit fittings will take place soon. The exercise will also include support for Orion development work ahead of the spacecraft's first crewed flight. "We have a lot of work to do."
That training will take a lot of time on Orion spacecraft simulators, Matt Ramsey, Artemis 2 mission development manager, said in an interview. They will receive launch-related training at the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory, a large pool at JSC, the Orion Crew Module Mockup, and the Kennedy Space Center.
Artemis 2 is currently scheduled to launch on the Space Launch System's second flight before November 2024. This is the first time the SLS or Orion spacecraft has carried astronauts.
SLS will put the Orion spacecraft into an elliptical Earth orbit, where it will remain for a day to allow astronauts to test the spacecraft and make sure its life support systems and other critical subsystems are working properly. The spacecraft will also perform a proximity operations, or "prox ops" demonstration, by maneuvering close to the SLS's interim cryogenic propulsion stage.
"You get a full day to check all your subsystems before you go to TLI," or translunar injection, Ramsey said of that early Earth orbiter. "Any time you have complications, you have a chance to come back very quickly."
After the tests are complete, Orion will put its main engine into a free return orbit around the moon. Instead of going into orbit around the moon, the spacecraft will circle the moon and return to Earth to splash down in the Pacific Ocean. The entire work will take about 10 days.
The three "driving principles" for Artemis 2 are crew safety and survivability, vehicle survivability, and mission success. He said the mission success policy consists of testing the spacecraft's subsystems, including emergency and nominal situations. There are additional flight test objectives that will attempt to carry out the mission if time permits to help reduce risk to later missions.
Accepting risk in Artemis 2 will be different from Artemis 1 because of that four-person crew. On Artemis 1 we “pushed the edge of the performance envelope. We're not going to do that for Artemis 2," Amit Kshatriya, head of NASA's New Moon Mars Program Office, said in an interview. One example of that strategy, he said, is that Orion will be stationed in orbit for a day to look at systems before going to the moon. "We didn't do anything that unnecessarily put the crew at greater risk."
Jim Free, NASA associate administrator for exploration systems development, said NASA is still working through lessons learned from the Artemis 1 mission, but is confident enough to name the Artemis 2 crew at the end of that mission and begin training. "I think it's a great sign that we believe we can trust human lives on this vehicle."
The critical path for Artemis 2 completes the Orion Crew Module, which will house crew displays and life support systems. There have been some supply chain issues with components for the life support system, but NASA and Orion prime contractor Lockheed Martin have addressed those delays by rescheduling work on the module, "trying to do as much as we can while we wait on the parts."