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This year, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) enters a new era of space exploration, with plans to launch the first phase of the Artemis program by June 2022 for an uncrewed test run to the moon. The missions will pave the way for sending humans back to the moon by 2024, including the first female and first person of color, and eventually sending the first astronauts to Mars.

  • Vanessa Wyche, director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, said “we will go to the moon differently” with Artemis – the twin sister of Apollo in Greek mythology – by incorporating a diverse astronaut corps and bringing along international partners.
  • Wyche said U.S. astronauts are still working together with Russian cosmonauts to maintain professional relationships and continue operations on the International Space Station despite the Russia-Ukraine crisis.
  • She said Covid has negatively affected the Artemis timeline but that NASA plans to execute the first mission in June, an uncrewed launch.
  • NASA will then select the astronauts for Artemis II, the first crewed mission, and train them on operating the Orion spacecraft for the Artemis III mission, explained Wyche.
  • Part of NASA’s mission is to enable the commercialization of space, said Wyche, and SpaceX and Northrop Grumman supply cargo to the International Space Station.
  • As companies increasingly develop the space economy, public-private partnerships will hopefully bring down some of the costs, said Wyche.
  • Wyche said the fact that she is the first African-American woman to lead a NASA center demonstrates that it’s possible for anyone to achieve their goals if they dream big, work hard and don’t give up.

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