The US has announced plans to land an international astronaut on the moon

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US Vice President Kamala Harris poses for a photo during a briefing at NASA headquarters in Washington on Wednesday.

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An international astronaut will land on the surface of the moon as part of NASA’s Artemis program, Vice President Kamala Harris announced Wednesday.

While the U.S. has previously pledged to fly international astronauts around the moon on future Artemis missions, today’s announcement takes that commitment a step further and allows one of them to actually walk on the moon’s surface — joining an elite club thus far. It has only 12 members.

“Today, in recognition of the critical role our allies and partners play in the Artemis program, I am proud to announce that, together with American astronauts, we will land an international astronaut on the lunar surface by the end of the decade,” Harris said during a meeting of the White House’s National Space Council on Wednesday in Washington, DC. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and National Security Adviser Jack Sullivan attended the meeting.

Each planned Artemis moon landing mission will have space for four astronauts, but not every astronaut will walk on the moon. Only two astronauts will land on the lunar surface per mission, and the remaining two will orbit the moon in the Orion spacecraft or a small space station called the Gateway.

“NASA has confirmed three opportunities for European Space Agency astronauts to fly to Gateway, one opportunity for a Canadian Space Agency astronaut to fly to Gateway and one opportunity on Artemis II, and one opportunity for a Japanese (JAXA) astronaut to fly to Gateway,” a NASA official told CNN. . “Beyond Artemis II, these team prospects are not assigned to specific Artemis missions.”

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At the end of the Apollo program, the Artemis II mission was set to be the first time humans orbited the Moon. Scheduled to launch in November 2024, the crew will include Canadian Space Agency astronaut Jeremy Hansen, who introduced the vice president on Wednesday.

“NASA may have chosen to do this alone, but they deliberately chose to include Canada and a growing list of international partners. This extraordinary example of American leadership leverages our collective expertise and is not only truly appreciated, but urgently needed in the world today,” said Hansen.

The first mission to land on the moon – Artemis III – is not scheduled to launch until at least the end of 2025. However, that timeframe has already been called into question as the space agency watches it closely Development of the SpaceX vehicle It will serve as the lander for Artemis III, carrying astronauts to the lunar surface.

“As mission parameters and team criteria are defined, NASA will perform specific team tasks closely related to each mission,” a NASA official said.

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