NASA announces crew of the first moon mission in 50 years

The crew of Artemis II.
(Image credit: MARK FELIX/AFP via Getty Images)

NASA on Monday revealed the four astronauts who will perform a flyby of the moon in 2024, marking humanity's first return to the lunar body since 1972.

The four crew members heading to the moon are American astronauts Reid Wiseman, Victor Glover, and Christina Koch, and Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen, the agency said in a press release. All are in their 40s, and Hansen is the only one who has not yet traveled to outer space.

The mission, dubbed Artemis II, will be the first crewed flight of NASA's Orion spacecraft. While an exact date for the launch has not been scheduled, it will likely come no earlier than "late 2024," The Associated Press reported.

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However, unlike the Apollo missions of the 1960s and 1970s, which actually put humans on the moon, Artemis II will not land on the lunar surface. In fact, it won't even enter the moon's orbit, AP noted — rather, the Orion spacecraft will simply fly around the moon and slingshot back to Earth on a 10-day flight. Artemis II is intended to be the first step towards lunar landings which will occur beyond 2024.

This is not to say, though, that the flight may not still be historic, as the mission will send the crew beyond the moon, and "potentially further than any human has traveled in history," CNN reported. However, the exact distance of the trip has not yet been determined, and NASA spokesperson Kathryn Hambleton told CNN this will depend on "the day of liftoff and the relative distance of the moon from the Earth at the time of the mission."

"The Artemis II crew represents thousands of people working tirelessly to bring us to the stars. This is their crew, this is our crew, this is humanity's crew," said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.

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