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NASA Plans For The First Woman To Set Foot On Moon In 2024. This Is A Landmark Moment For Women In Space

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Many moons ago (excuse the pun), Neil Armstrong became the first person to land on the lunar surface and said the most controversial quote while taking the first step on the moon, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” Almost five decades later, a woman is finally going to walk on the moon for the first time in history and this small step will be a giant leap for equality and women in space. The last lunar landing took place in 1972 and of the 12 astronauts that walked on the moon in six crew missions from 1969 to 1972, none have been women. NASA hopes to change that.

It was announced a few years ago that NASA is planning to launch a mission to land a man and a woman on the moon by 2024. It has formally outlined the $28 billion plan for the lunar landing through its Artemis programme. The space agency have not zeroed in on the moonwalkers yet. Jim Bridenstine, the NASA Administrator said that it would be someone “who has been proven, somebody who has flown, somebody who has been on the International Space Station already.”

Talking about the monumental decision to send a woman on moon, Bridenstine said in an agency town hall last year, “I have a daughter. She is 11 years old, and I want her to see herself in the same position that our current, very diverse astronaut corps currently sees itself, having the opportunity to go to the moon.” He added, “In the 1960s, young ladies didn’t have the opportunity to see themselves in that role. Today they do, and I think this is a very exciting opportunity.” This will prove to be a landmark victory for women in space and inspire millions of young girls to take up a career in the field.

The Artemis programme will be conducted in three phases starting next year. In the first phase a test flight will be sent around the Moon without the astronauts late in 2021. This will be Artemis-1 which will help test out the workings of the critical systems, including life support and communication capabilities. The second phase, Artemis-2 will take place in 2023 and this time the test flight will have a crew onboard who will manoeuvre the Orion (a spacecraft which will detach from the upper-stage of SLS rocket) and test out the proximity operations, a new test added to the mission. Finally in 2024, the final phase of the mission Artemis-3 will land a man and a woman astronaut on the surface of the moon, after 48 years of Apollo 17 landing in 1972.

Currently, there are 17 female active astronauts in the NASA’s astronaut corps from from whom, one will be selected to land on the moon. Of these, 5 women are recent graduates from at the Johnson Space Center in Houston and qualified for space and lunar missions, although they will have to fit the criterion laid out by Bridenstine in the next few years. The rest 12 are on active spaceflight duty and include spacewalkers like Christina Koch, Anne McClain and Serena Auñón-Chancellor who have flown to space and have had successful space voyage in the past. Although not all of them have flown to space, all these women are potential moonwalkers for the 2024 mission. Any of them could be the first woman on the moon.

Also Read: Christina Koch Returns To Earth, Becomes First Woman To Conduct A 328 Days Long Space Voyage And She’s Got Us Fangirling Hard

The mission is named Artemis after the Greek goddess of the moon who is also the twin sister of Apollo, which was the inspiration behind the name of NASA’s previous lunar missions. How cool is that? And aptly name given that she will be the first woman on moon.

The first women to have ever flown to space was cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova in 1963 and since then 65 women have embarked on a space journey which includes including cosmonauts, astronauts, payload specialists, and space station participants as of March 2020. This number seems negligible compared to the 501 men who have launched off Earth into space.

The Artemis programme will prove to be a huge milestone for women in space and open doors for aspiring female astronauts worldwide. It took a long time but finally we will have the first woman moonwalker in the history and we are truly thrilled for that moment to come, and more firsts like these for women in space. In other words, we are over the moon (again, excuse the pun).

Also Read: Jeanette Epps Is First Black Woman To Join The International Space Station Crew. It Took A Long Time Coming

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