TRAVELLING

Here’s how NASA’s astronauts are preparing to go to the Moon

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NASA

NASA is nearly ready to kick off its Artemis mission, a multi-stage quest to send astronauts to the Moon and beyond. As the agency approaches its launch date for  Artemis I — an unmanned flight around the Moon — it’s also preparing its astronauts to spend time on the lunar surface. 

Preparing to go to the Moon is about as intense as you would expect: NASA’s team of 42 astronauts and 10 astronaut candidates are going through rigorous training that involves landing Army helicopters, studying rocky terrain in areas like Iceland, spending extended periods at the bottom of a pool and training in VR simulations. 

NASA has yet to decide which astronauts will travel to the Moon. However, the agency said Friday’s it’s aiming to launch the Artemis II mission in 2024 — that mission will send astronauts on a lunar flyby test, making it the first crewed mission to go beyond low Earth orbit since 1972. Then, in 2025, NASA should launch the Artemis III mission, sending the first woman and the first person of color to the surface of the Moon.

The Artemis program doesn’t end there, NASA’s chief astronaut Reid Wiseman said Friday. After that, the program is designed to support “the first humans tracking out to Mars and putting our footsteps and building science laboratories and inhabiting another planet.

“To me, it’s just the most awe inspiring moment that we have had here at NASA,” Wiseman added. 

At a press briefing Friday, Wiseman outlined the elements of the astronauts’ training. First, they’re spending time with the Army, practicing how to land a helicopter in snow. 

“In order to land on the moon, in order to land on Mars, we’re going to come down pretty much vertically,” he explained. “Whether it’s SpaceX Option A, building

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