NASA's Artemis project aims to send astronauts back to the moon by 2024. This return will also mark the first time a woman walks to the moon. Indeed, the space agency wants one or more women to create the Artemis team. If the profiles are not yet well known, the candidates will of course be selected by this group of 12 female astronauts with an active duty.
They are between 40 and 53 years of age and are former military pilots, doctors and scientists selected by thousands of applicants since the late 1990s. The prediction of who will participate in Neil Armstrong at the time of history is not an exact science, but several former astronauts and experts interviewed say the closeness of the deadline means that it will probably not be new.
" Personally, I would not mind if we chose new staff Says Eileen Collins, a former astronaut who flew space buses in the 1990s and 2000s. But if you have enough astronauts who have already flown, they know how to react to space ".
Experienced astronauts, different profiles
Ken Bowersox, a senior NASA official, agrees. " I think it would be better to send people who have already made at least one flight ". This goal will be easily achievable because there have never been so many astronauts.
When NASA was created in 1958, it was only recruited into the military, who was then only a man. The 12 astronauts who crossed the Moon between 1969 and 1972 were men and only in 1983 Sally Ride became the first American to be sent to space.
The four women of the 21st Astronautics Conference, hired in 2013, represent a balanced mix of youth and experience. Currently, between 40 and 41, everyone will have made their first invasion of space by 2020. Anne McClain, a former military helicopter pilot, will remain at the International Space Station (ISS) at the end of June. Christina Koch, a passionate mechanic and alpinist, is also part of the ISS. Soon it will break the record for the longest stay in the room for a woman, 11 months.
" I think Christina Koch or Anne McClain will be my two best choices Says Janet Ivey, the presenter of a child's space program and governor National space society.
However, their two female colleagues at the same meeting, Jessica Meir, a penguin biologist and former pilot Nicole Mann, who flew to Iraq and Afghanistan, are also specialized. . In an interview in 2016, the four said they were ready to go to Mars if the opportunity came. It is hard to imagine that he is denying a trip to the moon.
Wide introduction for an opaque process
There is no age limit for space. The iconic John Glenn made his last flight at the age of 77 as a US Senator. So nothing prevents the very experienced Sunita Williams, who prepares its third mission in space and will be 58 in 2024. Especially since NASA " has long enjoyed the leadership skills acquired by test pilots According to Kent Romninger, former head of the astronauts office from 2002 to 2006.
About the same topic: Artemis mission: here are the landing sites selected by NASA and private companies
Suni, as it is called, flew about thirty different aircraft during its military career. Two other women, Serena Aunon-Chancellor and Kate Rubins, have also recently fired in space. The other five have not flown since 2010 but remain active. There are five women in the 2017 session, but they have not yet completed their initial training.
They are not exempted yet, but the timing is not on their side, especially as NASA tends to stick to a circle of astronauts as soon as their class is established, said Michael Lopez-Alegria, a former astronaut who spent 20 years with the organization. However, the process "is quite opaque," he admitted. In Houston, the chief astronaut will want to create a team whose profiles will be complementary, a mix of old military and scientific fields and different personalities.