The first Canadian astronaut to participate in a lunar mission will be Jeremy Hansen.
The 47-year-old Ontarian is a fighter pilot and has a master’s degree in physics. He has been an astronaut since 2009, but has never been in space.
The Artemis II mission is scheduled for 2024 or 2025. Lasting 10 days, it will remain in orbit around the Moon. The moon landing of the Artemis program is scheduled for the third mission, not before 2025. No Canadians will participate in the Artemis III mission. Three American astronauts are also participating, including a woman.
The Artemis II crew unveiling ceremony takes place in Houston on Monday morning at 11 a.m. A retransmission with comments by the President of the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), Lisa Campbell, takes place at the same time at CSA headquarters in Saint-Hubert. Marc Garneau, the first Canadian to travel in space in 1984 in the space shuttle Challenger, is also in Saint-Hubert.
“I vividly remember the day, March 1, 1984, when we rounded up the astronauts who would be on the mission,” said Mr. Garneau, who is a former CSA executive. “I was nervous. I realized that I would make a dream come true. For 40 years I have been told: you are the guy who went to the moon. But I haven’t been to the moon. It will change the person. Orbiting the Moon is unique. This person will see the whole Earth. From the space station or the shuttle, we only see part of the Earth. »
In early February, CNN reported a rumor that the chosen Canadian astronaut would be Jeremy Hansen.
Prior to the announcement in Houston, all serving Canadian and American astronauts paraded on stage. When the Canadian astronauts made their appearance, applause rang out in the CSA room where the ceremony was taking place, especially for David Saint-Jacques. Astronauts from the Apollo program were in the audience in Houston.
Francois-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Industry, said before the crew unveiling that “Canada and the United States can do great things because we do them together.” He addressed the audience in English, apart from a “hello everyone” at the beginning of his speech and a “thank you everyone” at the end.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson has indicated that the ultimate goal is a Mars mission. “We choose to go back to the Moon and then go to Mars. »
The Artemis I mission, which took place late last year and lasted 25 days, was unmanned. It made it possible to test all the systems in lunar orbit. Artemis I was scheduled to take off in August, but suffered several postponements due to fuel leaks and then Florida’s fall weather.
David Saint-Jacques is the only serving Canadian astronaut who has been in space.
The other two serving Canadian astronauts are Jenni Sidey-Gibbons, 34, a mechanical engineer, and Joshua Kutryk, 41, a fighter and test pilot.