WASHINGTON: Astronaut Christina Hammock Koch will become the first woman to go around the Moon ever since humanity began exploring the lunar world.
US space agency Nasa announced that Koch will be the mission specialist when four humans board the Orion spacecraft for a trip around the Moon.
So far, only male astronauts have been to lunar orbit and on the surface. The new mission marks the first arrival of a woman astronaut in the realm of the Moon. Nasa announced that Koch will be joined by astronauts Jeremy Hansen, Victor Glover and Reid Wiseman on the 10-day-long mission around the moon.
“It is an honour to be here. When I think about this mission, it’s so awesome in itself. We are going to ride the world’s most powerful rocket and we will reach peaks of thousands of miles and test all the systems and then we will head to the Moon,” Koch said after her name was announced. She added that they are going to carry the world’s excitement, aspirations and dreams with us on this mission to the Moon.
The announcement officially kicks off the preparation for the 10-day-long Artemis-II mission, which will bring humanity one step closer to landing on the Moon again since the Apollo missions. The last time humans walked on the Moon was in 1972 when Apollo 17 commander Eugene Cernan left his footprints on Earth’s natural satellite.
Who is astronaut Christina Koch?
Astronaut Christina Hammock Koch joined Nasa in 2013 and served as flight engineer on the International Space Station (ISS) for Expedition 59, 60 and 61. A native of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Koch attended North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she earned Bachelor of Science degrees in Electrical Engineering and Physics and a Master of Science degree in Electrical Engineering.
Prior to becoming an astronaut, Koch spanned both space science instrument development and remote scientific field engineering. Her career began as an Electrical Engineer at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) where she contributed to scientific instruments on several NASA space science missions.
She was first launched into space in 2019 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on the Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft. According to Nasa, serving as a Flight Engineer on the ISS for Expeditions 59, 60 and 61, Koch and her crewmates contributed to hundreds of experiments in biology, Earth science, human research, physical science and technology development.
Koch conducted six spacewalks, including the first three all women spacewalks, totaling 42 hours and 15 minutes. She has spent a total of 328 days in space.
Artemis II will mark the debut crewed flight – but not the first lunar landing – of an Apollo successor program aimed at returning astronauts to the moon’s surface this decade and establishing a sustainable outpost there, creating a stepping stone to human exploration of Mars.
The objective of the Artemis II flight, a 10-day, 2.3-million-kilometer journey around the moon and back, is to demonstrate that all of Orion’s life-support apparatus and other systems will operate as designed with astronauts aboard in deep space.