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Artemis II astronauts say the lunar mission can inspire Canada

OTTAWA — Four astronauts selected to orbit the moon say the Artemis II mission can help shed light on how Canada is responding to food insecurity, healthcare needs and adaptation to the Arctic climate.

“How do we get eight billion people arguing in the same direction and working on these issues? Because these are global issues,” said Jeremy Hansen, a Canadian colonel who will join three Americans in space.

“We can do great things together. We can do better as a human race. Here’s a little example,” he said alongside his teammates in an interview Tuesday with The Canadian Press.

The 10-day mission, scheduled for November 2024, is part of an ambitious plan to establish a long-term presence on the Moon, and NASA hopes Ottawa will increase its spending in space.

The crew will circle the Earth, propelling themselves hundreds of thousands of miles to perform a figure-eight maneuver around the Moon, before their momentum carries them home.

If the flight is successful, it will be the first time a human has ventured far from Earth and pave the way for another mission scheduled for 2025. This will involve piloting a rover on Earth’s surface. The moon and the search for materials that can be converted into fuel and building materials.

Diverse team

Mission pilot Victor Glover emphasized that the diversity of the small but highly specialized crew, which includes people of two nationalities, a woman and a black man, is a deliberate message to the planet.

“It’s an example of what we can achieve, and the challenges we can overcome,” said Mr. Glover, who is black.

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“When we bring our diverse skills, our countries together, we can do what the president said in your parliament: ‘Great things,'” he said, referring to President Joe Biden’s speech to House municipalities last month.

NASA’s auditing arm estimates that the Artemis program, which successfully sent an unmanned spacecraft around the moon last November and planned astronauts to stay on the moon for a week, will cost as much as $93 billion in the fall of 2025.

The ultimate next ambition is to establish a manned outpost in lunar orbit.

repercussions on the ground

In addition to the mission’s positive message of cooperation, the crew noted, there is a host of “inspiring feedback” and economic impacts.

Hansen said the scientific research involved in the mission is especially important to Canadians, as it will collect tons of data relevant to climate change and test new ways to deal with remote environments.

He said there is “a lot of overlap” between being on the Moon, and possibly Mars, and solving some problems on Earth.

“If we can’t grow food in the Canadian Arctic, how can we expect to grow it on the Moon and Mars?” Asked.

“These are areas where we can use space inspiration to help us bring real benefits to Canadians on the planet and society at large.”

The CSA also sees the mission as a way to advance technology functions in commercial space robots, building on the success of the Canadarm series of robotic weapons.

Canadians need to realize “there is an opportunity for us to benefit from a program like Artemis,” Mr. Hansen said.

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program in preparation

For decades, the International Space Station was the only destination for astronauts. Artemis II will be the first mission in the history of the Lune depuis of the previous Apollo mission in 1972, and the four astronauts serving the first human beings using the spatial Orion vaisseau, who will return to Earth in December after his auto tour. the moon.

“We don’t have a specific training plan that has been proven and repeated over and over,” explained astronaut Christina Hammock-Koch.

“We have to innovate with it as we go, and it is up to us to make it the best it can be in the future.”

Mrs. Koch already knows what it’s like to adjust to being extraterrestrial, having spent 328 days on the space station.

“Being upside down can feel like you’re standing up. You can literally feel like you’re moving when you’re not,” she said of her first 48 hours in space.

During this time, she explained, her team will be tasked with “some of the more important mission operations,” such as steering the vehicle and measuring how close it is to other objects.

Mission leader Reed Wiseman said the mission’s diversity resulted from selecting the best for each role.

“They have outstanding backgrounds and great skills,” he said.

woman on the moon

However, the head of the agency, Bill Nelson, has indicated that women will be among those chosen to walk on the moon when Artemis III launches, likely in 2025.

But he did not say whether the first non-American person to walk on the moon was Canadian.

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“She will be the first woman and the next man to walk on the moon. Any grants for these missions are too early to talk about,” said Nelson, a former astronaut.

He noted that the European Space Agency and the Japanese Space Agency have made “significant investments” in joint programs with NASA.

“They each carried several astronauts with us. Everyone is increasing their budget for their space program, and I think we’ll also see a parallel path with Canada,” Nelson added.

“Now that Jeremy is going to the moon, I think Canada’s involvement will increase.”

Mr. Hansen, the only astronaut on the mission yet to be in space, said he wanted to show that it was possible to go from a farm in rural Ontario to the far side of the moon.

“My message to Canadians is: Don’t stay small. I think we’re used to doing that. There are so many geniuses all over the country contributing to the world,” he said.

He said he’s excited about what the Artemis missions plan to uncover, from weather observations to whether the regolith covering the moon could be used to create masonry-like concrete structures.

“We’re going to have humans walking on the moon, we’re going to have humans going to Mars, we’re going to have real huge problems on the planet,” Hansen concluded.

“It’s not the pinnacle. It’s just a small step.”