How astronauts are training for first human Moon mission for 50 years

The Artemis 2 astronauts are expected to launch to the lunar orbit in 2025

Powered by automated translation

Four astronauts are preparing to launch on the first human mission to the Moon since the last Apollo mission in 1972.

They are expected to launch to the lunar orbit in September 2025, for a 10-day trip called Artemis 2 – part of Nasa's programme that aims to send humans back to the Moon.

The mission will allow engineers on the ground to test the spacecraft's performance in hosting humans, so the US space agency can prepare to send astronauts to the Moon the following year.

Three American astronauts and another from Canada have been training at the Johnson Space Centre in Houston, Texas, and the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, to learn more about the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and the Orion spacecraft, which will help them travel to the Moon.

“The crew is making incredible progress getting ready for their flight as the first people to fly inside Nasa’s newest spacecraft built for deep space,” said Jacki Mahaffey, chief training officer for Artemis 2.

“Their training is preparing them to do everything from planned mission tasks and daily operations to how to recognise and deal with unexpected situations.”

Meet the crew

Astronaut Reid Wiseman, 48, is serving as the commander on the mission.

He was selected by Nasa in 2009 and has flown on three previous missions to the International Space Station (ISS).

Victor Glover, 47, is the pilot on the Orion capsule and was selected by the US space agency in 2013. He has served as pilot on a Dragon capsule that flew to the ISS.

Christina Koch, 45, will serve as mission specialist on the trip. She is a record-setting astronaut, having spent the longest consecutive time in space by a woman with a total of 328 days. She also took part in the first all-female spacewalk.

The Canadian space agency's Jeremy Hansen, 48, is also taking on the role of mission specialist.

This will be the fighter pilot's first mission to space, and he will become the first non-American to go to the Moon.

In 2013, he lived underground for six days as part of the European Space Agency's Caves programme, which simulates deep space missions.

The following year, Mr Hansen lived and worked on the ocean floor in a habitat off Key Largo, Florida, simulating deep-space exploration as part of the Neemo 19 mission.

How are they training?

The crew started training for Artemis 2 in June 2023 and are receiving training in how to operate the systems on the Orion.

Orion has already orbited the Moon as part of an uncrewed test flight in 2022 that helped engineers test its performance.

It launched aboard the SLS rocket, a powerful heavy-left vehicle that Nasa built for deep-space exploration.

The astronauts are training in pre-launch operations around the launchpad in Florida and practicing abort scenarios during the journey into space.

For the journey to the Moon, they are trying to understand Orion's manual piloting technique to help reduce risks for future Artemis missions when the craft docks with the Lunar Gateway – a Moon-orbiting station that Nasa, the UAE, Canada and the European Space Agency are developing.

On February 4, Nasa released images of the crew practicing splashing down in a pool at the Johnson Space Centre.

The training is necessary for when the Orion they'll be travelling in returns to Earth and splashes down in the ocean. The US Navy will help to recover them from the water.

Apart from launch and landing training, the astronauts tested preparing the food they will be eating during the journey, carried out geology training so they can photograph sites on the lunar surface from the spacecraft, and learnt how to use the wearable devices that will monitor their health.

Updated: February 08, 2024, 1:59 PM