Vice President Mike Pence hosted the final meeting of the National Space Council in Florida on Wednesday, using the opportunity to announce the list of NASA astronauts to be considered for future missions to the moon as part of NASA’s Artemis program.
This cadre of astronauts – Called the Artemis Team – Includes 18 astronauts, some with previous flight experience and those who have not yet flown into space. The list includes some notable names, Christina Koch and Jessica Meyer, the two women who made history by making the first female spacewalk. Two astronauts, Victor Glover and Kate Rubins, are currently aboard the International Space Station. Five of the 18 members of the National Space Committee meeting at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida were attended by: Meyer, Jessica Watkins, Ann McLean, Matthew Dominic, and Joe Acaba.
As no flight assignments have been given yet, it is not clear which of the nine women in the group will fly to the moon for the first time – a goal that NASA has been promoting since the creation of the Artemis program. According to NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstein, this group is likely to change. “This is the first cadre of our Artemis astronauts,” he told the meeting. “I want to be clear, I have more to do.”
The meeting was not just focused on astronauts. Pence also announced that President Trump has unveiled a new national space policy 32 page document President’s Space Vision for the Executive Branch. “Space tells us that space is crucial to our safety and our way of life, and that it sets out the basic principles that make America number one in space,” Pence said of the policy. The previous National Space Policy was released in June 2010 under the Obama administration. Pence also announced that two Air Force bases, Patrick Air Force Base and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, would be renamed Space Force bases. Another base will be named after Chuck Yeager, a pioneer aviator who died on December 7 at the age of 97.
As the country prepares for a new administration, the announcement of the astronauts is an interesting statement. In the past, changes have led to rapid changes in space policy. Under the Obama administration, NASA focused on getting people to Mars, but in 2017, President Trump signs space policy proposal NASA is tasked with manning back to the moon. Since then, NASA has been working hard to develop a program to bring astronauts to the lunar surface, which requires a combination of long-developed hardware and spacecraft.
In 2019, Pence famously challenged NASA Achieving the first lunar landing under the Artemis program by 2024, Incredibly desirable time limit It’s hard to find. Bridenstein worked hard to secure additional funding, prompting Congress to spend an additional $ 3.4 billion next year, sending humans to the lunar surface to finance lunar landlords. So far, lawmakers have enacted legislation that provides partial funding to these landowners. But they are reluctant to pay the full amount.
With President-elect Joe Biden taking office in January, the future of the Artemis program is even more uncertain. No official with the incoming Biden administration has given any indication of what the new president’s space agenda will look like, especially with regard to the human exploration program.
But for now, NASA is still working on its lunar mission. The space agency’s massive rocket – which is intended to send people to the moon – is going for a major test in Mississippi before the first unscheduled flight at the end of 2021. Earlier next year, NASA also planned to select two companies to go ahead with the creation of new lunar launchers. Now, NASA has a unique set of astronauts, when it’s actually time for people to fly back to the moon.
Having all these parts, it may be more difficult for the new government to cancel the Artemis program. But there may still be some important changes in the store.