Canadian Jeremy Hansen named to NASA’s Artemis II mission around the moon

Canadian Jeremy Hansen named to NASA’s Artemis II mission around the moon

Jeremy Hansen will soon stand alone in Canadian space history.

Hansen, 47, will be the first non-American to leave Earth’s orbit when he joins the Artemis II moon mission next year, officials revealed Monday.

Serving as a mission specialist, Hansen will be one of four astronauts assigned to the 10-day mission that is scheduled for launch in November 2024, NASA and Canadian Space Agency officials said. The other three astronauts on the mission are all American: Christina Hammock Koch, Victor Glover and G. Reid Wiseman.

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Click to play video: 'Trudeau praises Canadian Astronaut Jeremy Hansen on making space history'

Trudeau praises Canadian Astronaut Jeremy Hansen on making space history

If successful, this will be the first time humans get that close to the moon since the Apollo program more than 50 years ago.

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“Our scientists, our engineers, the Canadian Space Agency, the Canadian Armed Forces across government, all of our leadership working together … have added up to this moment where a Canadian is going to the moon with our international partnership, and it is glorious,” Hansen said Monday.

“At the end of it all, I am left in awe of being reminded what strong leadership, setting big goals with a passion to collaborate and a can-do attitude can achieve, and we are going to the moon together. Let’s go.”

Astronauts last visited the moon in December 1972, closing out the Apollo program. So far, 24 men — all Americans — have visited the moon and half of those have walked on it.

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The mission around the moon and back will take approximately 10 days. The return trip alone will take about four days.

It builds on the success of Artemis I, an unmanned flight, that travelled on a 1.4-million-mile journey beyond the moon, returning to Earth after 25 days last December.

Click to play video: 'Biden says Canadian will fly on Artemis II mission: ‘Canada and the U.S. can do big things together’'

Biden says Canadian will fly on Artemis II mission: ‘Canada and the U.S. can do big things together’

That mission took place to ensure safe re-entry, descent, splashdown, and recovery using the new Orion spacecraft so NASA is ready for Artemis II when a crew, including one Canadian, is onboard.

“Twenty-four people have ever seen with their own eyes the circle of the Earth, and now a Canadian is going to be part of the very next people to see that, the first non-American to do it. It’s a big deal,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters in Val-d’Or, Que.

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“It’s a credit to Jeremy, but it’s also a credit to the amazing scientists, researchers and workers at the Canadian Space Agency and at scientific institutions around the world who’ve been continuing to step up and contribute to the advancement of science. It’s a great day for Canada. It’s a great day for us all.”

While the space agency plans to send four astronauts around the moon in 2024, it wants to attempt a two-person lunar landing as early as 2025, with the launch of Artemis III.

With the Artemis missions, NASA aims to investigate more of the lunar surface with the plan to build a sustainable presence on the moon. The end goal is to go to Mars by the late 2030s.

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“The Artemis II crew represents thousands of people working tirelessly to bring us to the stars,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.

“This is their crew. This is our crew. This is humanity’s crew.”

Canada’s current astronaut corps is comprised of just four people, including Hansen of London, Ont., a colonel and CF-18 pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force.

David Saint-Jacques, 53, an astrophysicist and medical doctor from Montreal has been the only member of the group who’s already been to space. He flew to the International Space Station in 2018, and was selected for the corps in 2009 alongside Hansen.

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Click to play video: 'Artemis II: Chris Hadfield on what it takes to make crew as Canadian astronaut to join lunar mission'

Artemis II: Chris Hadfield on what it takes to make crew as Canadian astronaut to join lunar mission

Chris Hadfield, who many Canadians know for his popular videos while deployed at the ISS, retired from the program in 2013.

The Canadian astronaut corps is also made up of test pilot and Air Force Lt.-Col. Joshua Kutryk, 41, from Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., and Jennifer Sidey-Gibbons, 34, a mechanical engineer and Cambridge University lecturer from Calgary.

Astronauts aside, Canada is engaged in cutting-edge research endeavours that will help shape the Artemis program.

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For example, take the “Deep Space Food Challenge,” launched in 2021, in which participants must develop ways to produce food in the harsh environments of deep space with few resources that will one day be necessary to sustain life.

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Canada and NASA have been working together since the early 1960s and the headiest days of the U.S. space program, when Canada’s first satellite was launched on a U.S. rocket.

The Canadarm, that iconic, Maple Leaf-emblazoned fixture of the shuttle program, would later cement Canada’s status as a country the U.S. could count on.

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“Our partnership, which is fueled by bold initiatives and scientific excellence and most importantly, Canadians, could not be more proud to share this moment with our American partners and friends,” said Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne.

“This is more than just about going back to the moon. This is about investing in the future. This is about possibilities. This is about seizing the opportunities of this space economy, from health to food security to climate change and much more, so as we embark together on this new space era, let us seize the moment. Let us be ambitious and together. Let’s inspire the young people watching us to reach for the stars and become the next generation of scientists, engineers and explorers.”

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— with files from Motorcycle accident toronto today’ Saba Aziz and The Canadian Press