NASA names first woman and black astronauts for Artemis II lunar flyby

NASA on Monday (local time) named the first woman and the first African American ever assigned as astronauts to a lunar mission, introducing them as part of the four-member team chosen to fly as early as next year on what would be the first crewed voyage around the moon in more than 50 years.

Christina Koch, an engineer who already holds the record for the longest continuous spaceflight by a woman, was named as a mission specialist, along with Victor Glover, a US Navy aviator, who was selected as the Artemis II pilot.

Glover, who was part of the second crewed flight of a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, would become the first astronaut of color ever to be sent on a lunar mission.

Rounding out the four-member crew are Jeremy Hansen, the first Canadian ever chosen for a flight to the moon, as a mission specialist, and Reid Wiseman, an International Space Station veteran, named as Artemis II mission commander.

The Artemis II quartet were introduced at a televised news conference in Houston at the Johnson Space Center, NASA's mission control base.

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 later this decade and ultimately establishing a sustainable outpost there, creating a stepping stone to future human exploration of Mars.