Nasa Artemis: What is the mission and which astronauts will land on the moon?

Nasa launched Artemis on a 25-day test flight around the moon last year  (Red Huber/Getty Images)
Nasa launched Artemis on a 25-day test flight around the moon last year (Red Huber/Getty Images)

Nasa has revealed the names of the first woman and the first African American ever assigned as astronauts to a lunar mission.

They are part of a four-member team who will fly as early as next year on Nasa’s Artemis mission to the moon. In November 2022, the rocket was launched on a 25-day test flight to fly around the moon and back. The space agency’s last Apollo moon mission was 50 years ago.

The Apollo missions of the 1960s and 1970s landed 12 men on the moon, and the Artemis mission is the first time in a generation people will see men – and a woman – make a lunar landing.

Last year, Libby Jackson, head of space exploration at the UK Space Agency, said: “The launch of the Artemis 1 mission is a hugely significant moment for the global space community, paving the way for humanity to return to the Moon in the coming years. The Artemis programme marks the next chapter of human space exploration, and we look forward to continued involvement as it comes to life.”

Here’s what you need to know about who will be on board Artemis II.

Which astronauts will fly on Nasa’s Artemis moon rocket?

The Artemis II quartet were introduced at a televised news conference in Houston at the Johnson Space Center, Nasa’s mission control base.

Christina Koch is an engineer who already holds the record for the longest continuous spaceflight by a woman, and she has now been named as a mission specialist.

In addition, Victor Glover, a US Navy aviator, was selected as the Artemis II pilot. He was part of the second crewed flight of a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, and will become the first astronaut of colour ever to be sent on a lunar mission.

Jeremy Hansen is the first Canadian ever to be chosen for a flight to the moon, serving as a mission specialist.

Finally, Reid Wiseman, an International Space Station veteran, has been named as Artemis II mission commander.

How long does it take to get to the moon?

The moon is about 238,855 miles from Earth on average, depending on where it is in its orbit.

The time it takes to get to the moon depends on a number of factors, including whether the rocket is crewed or not. According to Nasa, it takes between 2.5 and four days to reach the moon.

The Apollo 11 mission, which was the first crewed mission to land on the moon, took four days to make the journey.

What does Artemis mean and what is the project’s mission?

The Artemis project is named after the Greek goddess of the moon and sister to Apollo, who gave his name to Nasa’s first moon missions. Appropriately, Artemis’s mission will land the first woman on the moon in 2025.

Nasa said the project’s aims are “scientific discovery, economic benefit, and inspiration for a new generation of explorers”.

The space agency will build an Artemis base camp, which will allow astronauts and robots to explore more extensively than before.

Nasa launched its Artemis rocket on Wednesday morning (Keegan Barber/Nasa via Getty Images)
Nasa launched its Artemis rocket on Wednesday morning (Keegan Barber/Nasa via Getty Images)

Who was the first person on the moon?

The first astronauts landed on the moon as part of the Apollo 11 mission in 1969.

Astronaut Neil Armstrong was the first person to step foot on the moon, famously saying: “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind”, as he did so.

Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin soon joined Armstrong on the moon, while astronaut Michael Collins remained in lunar orbit.

Who was the last person on the moon?

The last astronauts to walk on the moon were Gene Cernan and Harrison “Jack” Schmitt, as part of the Apollo 17 mission in 1972.

Astronaut Ronald Evans was also a part of the mission but remained on board.

Full list of astronauts to walk the moon

A total of 12 men have walked on the moon as part of six Apollo missions.

  • Apollo 11: Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin

  • Apollo 12: Pete Conrad, Alan Bean

  • Apollo 14: Alan Shepard, Edgar Mitchell

  • Apollo 15: David Scott, James Irwin

  • Apollo 16: John Young, Charles Duke

  • Apollo 17: Gene Cernan, Harrison Schmitt

The Apollo 13 astronauts Jim Lovell and Fred Haise were also set to walk on the moon but their mission was aborted because an oxygen tank exploded.