The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the US space agency; has said that in addition to landing the first woman on the Moon, it also plans to send the first person of colour to the lunar surface as part of its ambitious international spaceflight programme; ‘Artemis’.
The mission, endorsed by the Biden-Harris administration, aims to land the astronauts on the lunar south pole by 2024; and create sustainable missions to the earth’s natural satellite by 2028.
The ambitious mission is being regarded as a forward step for diversity.
The ‘Artemis’ program is so named after the Greek goddess of the Moon and the twin sister of Apollo; the inspiration behind Nasa’s first moon landing mission.
Last year in November, Nasa had introduced the 18 astronauts who will staff the human spaceflight mission.
The group includes nine women and several people of colour, but it is not yet known who the actual “first woman”; or the “first person of colour” to touch the lunar surface will be.
The initial group of Artemis astronauts also includes Indian American Raja Chari.
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On Friday, the US administration under president Joe Biden and vice-president Kamala Harris submitted 2022 budget priorities to Congress.
Nasa’s goal to land the first woman and the first person of colour on the Moon under the Artemis programme; “aligns with President Biden’s commitment to pursue a comprehensive approach to advancing equity for all;” said acting Nasa administrator Steve Jurczyk in an official statement.
“With Nasa’s Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft, as well as U.S. commercial partnerships with the human landing system; and Gateway lunar outpost, we will send astronauts to the Moon and provide learning opportunities for future missions,” Nasa said in its official statement; adding that the Biden-Harris administration’s 2022 discretionary funding request “furthers the robotic exploration of the solar system and the universe”.
According to Nasa, the Artemis programme will serve as a proving ground for the returning astronauts to the Moon; who will later be sent to Mars.
The legacy and science advanced during the Apollo programme will be carried forward to a new century for humans to achieve breakthroughs; in space exploration that previously seemed impossible, the US space agency said.