Artemis 2 astronauts are already preparing to return to Earth

Their journey around the Moon is only scheduled for September 2025, but the four astronauts of the Artemis 2 mission are already preparing for their return and for eight days they have been training at sea with the US Navy off the coast of California. Are.

“It’s crazy. This is something that only happens in movies and we live it every day.”Commander Reed Wiseman, wearing his electric blue astronaut military uniform, said Wednesday at Naval Base San Diego.

The night before, the quartet had been on a small inflatable raft in the Pacific Ocean.

Aboard a huge amphibious assault ship, hundreds of US military sailors, divers and pilots had to coordinate their efforts to rescue and airlift the space explorers. A necessary dress rehearsal to complete the final phase of an historic mission.

Wiseman and his three colleagues will become the first humans to approach the Moon since the end of the Apollo program more than 50 years ago.

If all goes well, they will fly over Earth’s satellite during a ten-day journey aboard the Orion capsule, before returning to the ocean.

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How to deal with a possible storm? What procedures should be initiated if an astronaut becomes injured? What can be done to get the empty capsule into the ship’s hold?

The training allows us to address all these details, especially thanks to the life-size replica of Orion: a large black cone nicknamed “Darth Vader”, which resembles the helmet of the “Star Wars” villain.

“We’re constantly thinking about what we’re going to do,” Lily Villarreal, the NASA official overseeing the mission’s return phase, told AFP. “We need to prepare for all scenarios.”

With the Artemis program, humanity returns to the Moon, no longer to reach it, but to reach it “stay” There permanently, remember.

While Artemis 2 will be limited to flying past the Moon, a third mission in the program scheduled for the end of 2026 will take humans to the star.

Its purpose is to send missions lasting several weeks, and then establish a base on the surface and a space station in orbit around the Moon, capable of serving as a relay for the conquest of Mars. Because now it is the Red Planet that NASA is interested in.

“Our Earth has limited resources,” Villarreal insists. “So we have to figure out what we can do for the good of humanity.”


But recapturing the Moon goes beyond the simple ambition of turning it into a springboard to more distant space.

For many years, private companies have been dreaming of sending tourists, and new powers like India, Japan and China have managed to land on the Moon.

Beijing also aims to send humans to the Moon by 2030, putting pressure on NASA not to delay.

In this context, “the question is not really why we’re going there, but whether we’re going to lead or not,” surmises Christina Koch, another Artemis 2 astronaut.

Koch will become the first woman to go that far in space and will be joined by Canadians Jeremy Hansen and Victor Glover, the first black astronauts to participate in a lunar mission.

With its new program, NASA aims to have a woman and a black man walk on the Moon for the first time.

The Apollo program had already sent 24 people, all white, to the Moon between 1969 and 1972. Only eight still survive and, like the US Navy, some veterans have taken their successors under their wings.

According to Wiseman, Thomas Stafford, who was part of Apollo 10, invited the Artemis 2 team to lunch.

“They immediately asked us: (…) ‘What would you do if the computers broke down?’ Have you thought about how your trajectories will work?”The astronaut said. “He immediately behaved like a father who wanted to make sure his kids came out safe and healthy.”

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