Next fall, two veterans will take a mission to the moon. The commander and pilot of NASA’s Artemis II both served in the U.S. Navy. Artemis II will be the first moon mission since the Apollo program concluded lunar excursions over 50 years ago.
Military experience is common among our nation’s space travelers. Eleven of the 12 men who walked on the Moon during six Moon landings of the Apollo program, between July 1969 and December 1972, were military veterans. They collected valuable samples, drove lunar cars, and one even hit the first golf ball in space with a modified 6-iron.
NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman, Expedition 40 flight engineer, is pictured while floating freely in the Unity node of the International Space Station. Photo Credit: NASA/Reid Weisman
And for this mission, Artemis II will fly around the moon but not land on it. The goal is to pave the way to establishing a long-term presence at the Moon for science and exploration. Then, prepare for space travel to Mars.
The crew of four was chosen this past April. Artemis II is planned to be a 10-day mission in November 2024, launching from the Kennedy Space Center and landing in the Pacific Ocean. The lunar flyby will be on the Orion CM-003 spacecraft and will cover 6,400 miles.
Former Navy Captain Reid Wiseman will be the commander of Artemis II. He encouraged people to look deeply into the backgrounds of the astronauts joining him on the mission.
“Don't just look at the faces," he told Mashable. "Just really try to see what we've done in our lives because we are four unique people."
Artemis II will be Wiseman's second mission to space. He has 165 days of space experience on Expedition 41, which flew to the International Space Station between May and November of 2014.
Wiseman graduated from New York's Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1997 and then was commissioned as a reserve officer. He reported to Pensacola, Fl. for flight training. His older brother was a Navy SEAL. He became a naval aviator in 1999 and flew the T-14 Tomcat for Fighter Squadron 101 in Virginia. Later, he deployed twice to the Middle East with Fighter Squadron Oceana for Operations Southern Watch, Enduring Freedom, and Iraqi Freedom. After attending the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School and graduating in June 2004, Wiseman became a test pilot and project officer at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland and worked in programs such as the F-35 Lightning II, F-18 weapons separation, Ship Suitability, and the T-45 Goshawk. Later assignments included Carrier Air Wing Seventeen as the Strike Operations Officer and Strike Fighter Squadron 103 in Virginia flying the FA-18F Super Hornet.
NASA astronaut Victor Glover poses for a portrait, Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020, in the Blue Flight Control Room at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. Photo Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
“Wiseman is a great commander, is very inclusive, and wants to make sure that all of us are engaged and feel ownership for this mission,” said Navy veteran Victor Glover, who will pilot the Artemis II mission. He will be the first person of color to go to the moon.
“The fact is that NASA is intentional and that our international partners are intentional about making sure that our human space diplomats, our representatives, our ambassadors of space look like the people that they represent,” he told USA Today.
Glover was named a NASA astronaut in 2013 and flew the SpaceX Dragon in May 2021. The California native holds a Bachelor of Science in General Engineering, a Master of Science in Flight Test Engineering, a Master of Science in Systems Engineering, and a Master of Military Operational Art and Science. Glover is a Naval Aviator and was a test pilot in the F/A‐18 Hornet, Super Hornet, and EA‐18G Growler.
Wiseman and Glover visited Naval Base San Diego in July. Rounding out the Artemis II crew is Christina Koch, who will be the first woman visiting the moon, and Jeremy Hansen, the first Canadian to travel to the moon.
“I hope the American public and humanity in general understand the power of teamwork and working together, not putting our differences aside, but working through those differences and using them to strengthen our mission,” Glover said. “And I hope this mission can continue to be a sign and a beacon of greater cooperation and peace.”