Who wants to go to the moon? Europe names astronaut candidates

    The European Space Agency announced a team of seven astronauts on Wednesday to train for NASA's Artemis mission to the moon.
    By: AFP
    | Updated on: Sep 23 2022, 00:50 IST
    In Pics: NASA set to return to the Moon with the Artemis 1 Mission
    Nasa
    1/5 According to NASA, Artemis I will be the first uncrewed flight test of the Space Launch System rocket and the Orion spacecraft. The Orion capsule will carry various objects like Snoopy dog toy which will fly as a zero-gravity indicator in the capsule. A new version of Alexa called Callisto created by Lockheed Martin, Amazon, and Cisco will also be aboard the spacecraft. (REUTERS)
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    2/5 The Artemis Programme is NASA’s first attempt to send a manned mission to the Moon since the Apollo missions in 1972. Earlier this month, NASA administrator Bill Nelson said, “To all of us that gaze up at the Moon, dreaming of the day humankind returns to the lunar surface, folks, we're here. We are going back.” (REUTERS)
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    3/5 The rocket and the Orion spacecraft have already been rolled out onto the launchpad on August 16. Although the rollout was scheduled to happen today on August 18, NASA moved up the plans and rolled out the Orion spacecraft on top of NASA’s brand-new Space Launcher System. (REUTERS)
    NASA manikin
    4/5 When NASA launches the Artemis 1 mission using the Space Launcher System on August 29, the Orion spacecraft, although unmanned, will carry 3 manikins called Zohar, Helga and Campos to space as human stand-ins for various tests and studies. They will be retrofitted with a vast number of sensors to conduct tests regarding the spaceflight. (NASA)
    NASA
    5/5 ason Hutt, NASA lead for Orion Crew Systems Integration said, “It’s critical for us to get data from the Artemis I manikin to ensure all of the newly designed systems, coupled with an energy dampening system that the seats are mounted on, integrate together and provide the protection crew members will need in preparation for our first crewed mission on Artemis II.” (NASA)
    NASA
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    The Artemis missions are NASA's attempt to go back to the Moon for the first time since Apollo 17 in 1972. (AP)

    The European Space Agency announced a team of seven astronauts on Wednesday to train for NASA's Artemis mission to the moon -- but only one will have the chance to become the first European to walk on the lunar surface.

    The candidates -- France's Thomas Pesquet, Britain's Tim Peake, Germany's Alexander Gerst and Matthias Maurer, Italy's Luca Parmitano and Samantha Cristoforetti, and Denmark's Andreas Mogensen -- have all completed at least one mission on board the International Space Station.

    Between them, the team has the equivalent of 4.5 years in orbit and 98 hours of spacewalking, ESA communications head Philippe Willekens told journalists at the International Astronautical Congress in Paris.

    Three of the astronauts will be selected to go to the Lunar Gateway, a planned station that will orbit the moon.

    But only one will set foot on the moon by the end of the decade. At some point, the ESA will have to decide which of the seven candidates will get to go.

    "We're all candidates and what matters is to go there as a team," Pesquet told reporters at the event in Paris.

    "Look, we're all wearing the same shirt," he added. Pesquet, Gerst, Maurer and Parmitano all attended wearing a navy blue polo shirt with ESA and Artemis logos.

    Cristoforetti had to video call in from space, where she is currently onboard the ISS after becoming the first European woman to embark on a spacewalk outside the station in July.

    Mogensen also spoke over video as he prepares for his own tour onboard the ISS.

    - 'Something inspiring for Europe' -

    The launch of the first Artemis mission, which is uncrewed and aims to test out a new rocket system and Orion capsule, has been delayed several times due to technical glitches including a fuel leak. NASA is now targeting September 27 for launch.

    The next mission, Artemis 2, will take astronauts to the Moon without landing on its surface, while the third -- aiming to launch in 2025 -- will see the first people set foot on the moon since 1972.

    The ESA is providing the European Service Module on the Orion capsule.

    "During this decade, three ESA astronauts will fly to the Lunar Gateway -- our permanent station we're building around the moon," David Parker, ESA's director of human and robotic exploration, told AFP.

    "And if all that goes well, by the end of this decade we'll be ready to send the first European astronaut to the moon," he added.

    Putting a European on the moon would be "something inspiring for Europe, a strong signal to say that 'here we are, taking our place in the space world, in a cooperative way'," Pesquet said.

    "With a European on the moon, I hope that a united Europe will become more of a reality that it is today," Maurer said.

    Despite deep divisions between Russia and the West over Moscow's war in Ukraine, on Wednesday a US astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts blasted off to the ISS on a Russian-operated flight.

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    First Published Date: 23 Sep, 00:50 IST
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