Who will be the first woman and the next man on the moon?
That’s what NASA’s 18 selected astronauts are now wondering, after the organization’s official introduction this Wednesday. The group is one of the most diverse groups in history to be selected. Half of the candidates are women, and four are even graduates of universities right here in San Diego!
Kate Rubins, UC San Diego graduate, is currently aboard the International Space Station. Jessica Meir, a graduate of UCSD’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography, was one of two who participated in the world’s first all-female spacewalk just last year. Two other graduates from University of San Diego, Matthew Dominick and Jonny Kim, have yet to take off into space, but perhaps not for long!
NASA’s program, called Artemis, seeks to put two people on the moon for the first time since the Apollo program ended in 1972. If successful, it will be the first time in history that a woman steps foot on the moon’s surface! The program’s mission is to establish sustainable exploration by 2030, with the ultimate goal of sending astronauts to Mars.
The introduction of the astronauts took place at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center, as a close to Vice President Mike Pence’s last meeting as chairman of the National Space Council. Five of the chosen elite were in attendance. According to NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, more will be added to the current group of candidates, as NASA currently has 47 active astronauts.
The future is uncertain, but NASA hopes to reintroduce humanity to the moon as soon as 2024!
[Featured image: NASA’s Artemis Program]