Contender: Kayla Barron, who has been an astronaut for five years, is the second youngest to be chosen for NASA's Artemis programme

Meet the hopeful astronauts vying to be the first WOMAN to walk on the moon

It has been more than half a century since humans first walked on the moon, with Neil Armstrong uttering those immortal words: ‘That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind’.

Eleven more Americans followed, including Buzz Aldrin, Alan Shepard and Eugene Cernan, but all of them were men.

Now, NASA is planning to land the first woman on the moon in a little over three years’ time and has whittled down the list to just nine candidates.

They include a Cambridge graduate, a marine veteran who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan and a former University of Bath rugby player who starred in the English Women’s Premiership.

Not to mention a helicopter-flying mother of twin girls and a scuba diver with a love of animals who dreamed of going to space at the age of five.

With NASA’s uncrewed Artemis I rocket set to launch later this month – the first of three complex missions that will pave the way for returning humans to the moon – the countdown is officially on to become ‘First Woman’.

MailOnline looks at each female astronaut shortlisted for the programme, including Kayla Barron, Christina Koch, Nicole Mann, Anne McClain, Jessica Meir, Jasmin Moghbeli, Kate Rubins, Jessica Watkins and Stephanie Wilson, as they look to etch their name in history by stepping foot on the lunar surface in 2025.

Bookmaker William Hill has also provided exclusive odds for the nine contenders.

Kayla Barron – 9/1 (The Young Gun)

Hometown: Richland, Washington

Age: 34

Time spent in space: 176 days, 2 hours and 39 minutes

Contender: Kayla Barron, who has been an astronaut for five years, is the second youngest to be chosen for NASA’s Artemis programme

On the ISS: She has UK links, after earning a master's degree in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Cambridge

On the ISS: She has UK links, after earning a master’s degree in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Cambridge

KEY FACTS 

Astronaut selection year: 2017

Previous missions: SpaceX Crew-3 

Military experience: U.S. Navy 

Colleges and degrees: Bachelor of Systems Engineering from U.S. Naval Academy and Masters in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Cambridge.

Hobbies: Enjoys hiking, backpacking, running and reading.

Kayla Barron has been a NASA astronaut for five years but is the second youngest to be chosen for the Artemis moon-landing program in 2025.

She has UK links, after earning a master’s degree in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Cambridge.

The 34-year-old was also part of the first group of women to become submarine warfare officers. 

Barron served as member of the SpaceX Crew-3 mission to the International Space Station, which launched on November 10, 2021. 

She worked as a flight engineer during the expedition and completed a six-and-a-half hour spacewalk to replace a communications antenna that had malfunctioned.

Barron returned in March this year after spending almost 177 days in orbit.

Of her future aspirations, she has previously said: ‘When I stand outside at night and look up at the moon, every once in a while I’ll try to imagine myself standing on the moon and looking back at Earth.

‘It’s just such a hard thing to wrap your head around.’

Barron’s father Scott Sax works as a project engineer for the US Department of Energy but has always harboured a dream of working for NASA. 

His daughter went on to realise this aspiration when she was selected to join the US space agency in 2017 at the age of 29.

Verdict

Barron may be the second youngest astronaut shortlisted for the Artemis program, but that hasn’t stopped her racking up experience since being selected by NASA in 2017. She has been to the International Space Station and completed a spacewalk, but there are several other candidates who have been on more missions and spent more time in space. Then again, Neil Armstrong wasn’t necessarily selected to be First Man because of his experience. Many think his personality had a lot to do with it — his mild manner making him a good candidate to represent the US and better equipped to handle the pressure of celebrity. Barron absolutely has a chance to be the first woman to walk on the moon, but it would appear NASA is thinking longer term for her mission.

Weightlessness: Barron served as member of the SpaceX Crew-3 mission to the ISS, which launched on November 10, 2021

Weightlessness: Barron served as member of the SpaceX Crew-3 mission to the ISS, which launched on November 10, 2021

She worked as a flight engineer during the expedition and completed a spacewalk to replace a communications antenna

She worked as a flight engineer during the expedition and completed a spacewalk to replace a communications antenna

Christina Koch – 5/1 (The Veteran)

Hometown: Grand Rapids, Michigan

Age: 43

Time spent in space: 328 days, 13 hours and 58 minutes

Breaking down barriers: Christina Koch is the record holder for the longest single spaceflight by a woman, at 328 days

Breaking down barriers: Christina Koch is the record holder for the longest single spaceflight by a woman, at 328 days

Just a few months prior, Koch and another female astronaut, Jessica Meir, completed the first all-woman spacewalk

Just a few months prior, Koch and another female astronaut, Jessica Meir, completed the first all-woman spacewalk

KEY FACTS

Astronaut Selection Year: 2013

Previous missions: Expedition 61, Expedition 59, Soyuz MS-13, Expedition 60, Soyuz MS-12 

Colleges and Degrees: Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering, a Bachelor of Science in Physics, and a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering from North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Hobbies: Backpacking, rock climbing, paddling, surfing, running, community service, photography, yoga and travel.

Christina Koch is the record holder for the longest single spaceflight by a woman, having spent 328 days in orbit during her trip to the International Space Station (ISS) between 2019 and 2020.

That surpassed the previous record of 288 days held by Peggy Whitson. 

Just a few months prior, Koch and another female astronaut, Jessica Meir, completed the first all-woman spacewalk. 

In total, she is a veteran of six spacewalks totalling 42 hours and 15 minutes, including the first three all-women spacewalks. 

Following her record-breaking ISS mission, Koch was included in Time’s Most Influential People of 2020.

From a young age, she wanted to be an astronaut, and joined her middle school’s ‘Rocket Club’.

The 43-year-old has previously worked in Antarctica at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station and Palmer Station, while she later contributed to instruments on the Juno spacecraft and Van Allen probes.

After being selected for the Artemis programme, she said: ‘To me, what [Artemis] really represents is that NASA is committed to answering humanity’s call to explore by all and for all. 

‘We’re an example of how you’re most successful when you take contributions from every single part of the world, and the planet and humanity.’

She also tweeted about her training back in January, writing: ‘Met our aircraft today. 

‘Path finding a new helicopter training program for the @nasaartemis generation. Taking the lessons from #Apollo in vertical flight and landings and bringing them back to the Moon!’

Verdict

Make no bones about it, Christina Koch will be one of the favourites. It doesn’t get more experienced than having the title of the longest single spaceflight by a woman. Not only that, but she and Jessica Meir already have one first under their belts by carrying out the first all-woman spacewalk. Could she follow this up by becoming the first woman on the moon? It would be foolish to bet against that.

Back home: Koch surpassed the previous longest single spaceflight record for a woman of 288 days held by Peggy Whitson. She is pictured here after returning to Earth in February 2020

Back home: Koch surpassed the previous longest single spaceflight record for a woman of 288 days held by Peggy Whitson. She is pictured here after returning to Earth in February 2020

Nicole Mann – 5/1 (The ‘Duke’)

Hometown: Petaluma, California

Age: 45

Time spent in space: 0 days

Striving for the moon: Almost a decade ago Nicole Mann was one of eight candidates selected from more than 6,300 applicants to train as an astronaut for NASA

Striving for the moon: Almost a decade ago Nicole Mann was one of eight candidates selected from more than 6,300 applicants to train as an astronaut for NASA

KEY FACTS

Astronaut Selection Year: 2013

Previous missions: Boeing Crewed Flight Test, SpaceX Crew-5 

Military Experience: U.S. Marine Corps

Colleges and Degrees: Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the United States Naval Academy and a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering with a specialty in Fluid Mechanics from Stanford University.

Nicole Mann is a Colonel in the Marine Corps and a former test pilot who flew 47 combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

In total, she has logged upwards of 2,500 hours of flight time in 25 different aircraft.

Mann’s friends and fellow crew call her ‘Duke’, a nickname she has said was actually her call sign in the Marines. 

Almost a decade ago she was one of eight candidates selected from more than 6,300 applicants to train as an astronaut for NASA. 

After completing her astronaut training in 2015, the mother-of-one was supposed to be among the first human passengers on Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft during its first crewed flights in the coming years.

But in 2021 she was reassigned to the SpaceX Crew-5 mission, which is due to launch to the International Space Station next month with Mann as the mission commander.

In an interview with National Geographic, Mann mentioned her eight-year-old son, saying: ‘We always sit outside, and we love to look at the stars and look at the moon — but now I think both of us look at it with a little different light in our eyes, and a little different twinkle. 

‘Hopefully someday, he’ll be able to watch Mom fly by and walk on the moon.’

Mann’s training has included flying T-38s — the same aircraft the Apollo astronauts used to travel between air bases more than 50 years ago. 

She has said of potentially being First Woman: ‘Yes, you want to be the first person to walk on the moon, you want to fulfil that role, but really it’s not about you.

‘It’s about the bigger mission, so you’re just excited to support in whatever role you can.’

Verdict

Mann is set to get her first taste of space in September but is still relatively green when compared to some of her more experienced colleagues. Like Armstrong, the fact that she is a former test pilot will certainly stand her in good stead — after all, NASA loves test pilots. But with the next moon landing planned for around three years’ time, it would appear that date will come a little soon for ‘Duke’. Not to be ruled out by any stretch, but a follow up mission seems more likely than Artemis III.

Taking to the skies: The mother-of-one is a former test pilot who flew 47 combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan

Taking to the skies: The mother-of-one is a former test pilot who flew 47 combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan

In 2021 she was reassigned to the SpaceX Crew-5 mission, which is due to launch to the International Space Station next month with Mann as the mission commander

In 2021 she was reassigned to the SpaceX Crew-5 mission, which is due to launch to the International Space Station next month with Mann as the mission commander

Anne McClain – 6/1 (The ‘Annimal’)

Hometown: Spokane, Washington

Age: 43 

Time spent in space: 203 days, 15 hours and 16 minutes

Military background: Anne McClain is a former army helicopter pilot and Iraq veteran who went by the call sign 'Annimal'

Military background: Anne McClain is a former army helicopter pilot and Iraq veteran who went by the call sign ‘Annimal’

McClain has spent a total of 204 days in space and was lead spacewalker on two spacewalks, totalling 13 hours and 8 minutes on her mission on the ISS

McClain has spent a total of 204 days in space and was lead spacewalker on two spacewalks, totalling 13 hours and 8 minutes on her mission on the ISS

KEY FACTS

Astronaut Selection Year: 2013

Previous missions: Expedition 59, Expedition 58, Soyuz MS-11, Expedition 57 

Military Experience: U.S. Army

Colleges and Degrees Bachelor of Science in Mechanical/Aeronautical Engineering from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and a Master of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Bath in Bath, England. McClain also earned a Master of Science in International Relations from the University of Bristol in Bristol, England.

Hobbies: Enjoys weightlifting, rugby, golf, biking, CrossFit, and running.

Anne McClain is a former army helicopter pilot and Iraq veteran who went by the call sign ‘Annimal’.  

It dates back to her rugby days at university in the UK, while she also uses the name in her Twitter handle, ‘AstroAnnimal’.

The 43-year-old played rugby in the English Women’s Premiership and credits the sport with giving her the ‘grit, toughness and mental focus’ to succeed as an astronaut.  

She is a big fan of Top Gun and has revealed that she watched it so much one summer that her brother broke the tape to get her to stop watching the film.

McClain said she was devastated, but it was that incident that inspired her to become a military pilot.

She was initially slated to carry out the first all-woman spacewalk alongside Christina Koch during Women’s History Month in March 2019, but spacesuit sizing issues resulted in the EVA being reassigned to Nick Hague and Koch. 

The latter would go on to make the first all-female spacewalk alongside Jessica Meir. 

In 2019, McClain was investigated and subsequently cleared by NASA over what was characterised as the first alleged space crime.

She was accused by her estranged spouse of improperly accessing bank records while on a six-month mission aboard the ISS.

After being cleared of any wrongdoing, McClain’s former partner Summer Worden was charged with making false statements to federal authorities.

McClain has spent a total of 204 days in space and was lead spacewalker on two spacewalks, totalling 13 hours and 8 minutes on her mission on the ISS.

Verdict

With plenty of flying and military experience, McClain has put herself in a great spot to be chosen as First Woman. She also has spent more than 200 days in space and been lead spacewalker twice during her mission to the International Space Station. The aeronautical engineering background will also be a bonus, making her one of the top contenders.

In 2019, McClain was investigated and subsequently cleared by NASA over what was characterised as the first alleged space crime. She was accused by her estranged spouse of improperly accessing bank records while on a six-month mission aboard the International Space Station

In 2019, McClain was investigated and subsequently cleared by NASA over what was characterised as the first alleged space crime. She was accused by her estranged spouse of improperly accessing bank records while on a six-month mission aboard the International Space Station

While at university in the UK, she played rugby in the English Women's Premiership and credits the sport with giving her the 'grit, toughness and mental focus' to succeed as an astronaut

While at university in the UK, she played rugby in the English Women’s Premiership and credits the sport with giving her the ‘grit, toughness and mental focus’ to succeed as an astronaut

Jessica Meir – 7/1 (The Dreamer)

Hometown: Caribou, Maine

Age: 45 

Time spent in space: 204 days, 15 hours and 19 minutes

Aspirations from an early age: Jessica Meir first dreamed of becoming an astronaut at the age of five. She was eventually chosen to join NASA in 2013

Aspirations from an early age: Jessica Meir first dreamed of becoming an astronaut at the age of five. She was eventually chosen to join NASA in 2013

Prior to becoming an astronaut, her career as a scientist focused on the physiology of animals in extreme environments

Prior to becoming an astronaut, her career as a scientist focused on the physiology of animals in extreme environments

KEY FACTS 

Astronaut Selection Year: 2013

Previous missions: Expedition 61, Soyuz MS-15, Expedition 62 

Colleges and Degrees: Bachelor of Arts in Biology from Brown University and a Master of Science in Space Studies from International Space University. Meir also earned a Doctorate in Marine Biology (diving physiology) from Scripps Institution of Oceanography (UCSD).

Hobbies: Enjoys skiing, hiking, running, cycling, soccer, and scuba diving.

Jessica Meir first dreamed of becoming an astronaut at the age of five. 

‘We were asked to draw a picture of what we want to be when we grow up, and I distinctly remember drawing an astronaut in a spacesuit standing on the surface of the moon next to the American flag,’ said Meir, 45, who Time magazine named one of the most influential people of 2020. 

At the age of 13, she also attended a youth space camp at Purdue University — Neil Armstrong’s alma mater.

She was eventually chosen to join NASA in 2013, before carrying out physiological training, survival training, flight classes and a wide range of technical training at space centres around the world. 

Meir served as flight engineer on the International Space Station for expeditions 61 and 62, after launching to space aboard Soyuz MS-15 on September 25, 2019. Her arrival marked an unusual period on the station because there were nine people aboard. 

The ISS is designed to support a crew of six at one time.

She also completed the first all-female spacewalk alongside Christina Koch in October 2019.

Apart from English and Russian, which are required for astronaut training, Meir also speaks Swedish because her mother is from Sweden and father from Israel.

Astronauts are allowed to bring a number of personal items to the International Space Station, so Meir chose an Israeli flag and a pair of novelty socks with Stars of David as part of her allocation. 

She played flute, piccolo, and saxophone when she was younger and enjoys reading classical literature.

Prior to becoming an astronaut, her career as a scientist focused on the physiology of animals in extreme environments.

She also took part in Smithsonian Institution diving expeditions to the Antarctic and Belize, and has been very active with scientific outreach efforts. 

When asked how it would feel to be the first woman to walk on the moon, Meir said: ‘I would be incredibly excited and fortunate to be that first woman on the moon. 

‘I’d have to think long and hard about what my first words would be upon stepping on the lunar surface. 

‘I’ve been asked about this many times, but I think the most important part to remember is that it would certainly not be about my personal achievement. It’s about representing everyone here at NASA, and, far beyond that, all of the people that brought us to where we are today. 

‘I would proudly be serving as a representative for all of humanity in that big step forward in exploration.’

Verdict

There are few better narratives than a woman who dreamed of becoming an astronaut aged five being the first to walk on the moon. Along with Koch, she also achieved a first when the pair took part in the first all-female spacewalk on 2019. Having carried out diving expeditions in the Antarctic and Caribbean, as well as a cave experiment and an undersea research lab off the Florida Keys archipelago, Meir has traversed some of the harshest environments on Earth. She has also spent more than 200 days in space — the third most of the female Artemis program astronauts. Nothing has stopped Meir so far, and NASA will be hard pushed not to choose her as First Woman.

Meir also took part in Smithsonian Institution diving expeditions to the Antarctic and Belize, and has been very active with scientific outreach efforts

Meir also took part in Smithsonian Institution diving expeditions to the Antarctic and Belize, and has been very active with scientific outreach efforts

Jasmin Moghbeli – 9/1 (The Skateboarding Chopper Pilot)

Hometown: Baldwin, New York

Age: 39

Time spent in space: 0 days

Jasmin Moghbeli's Twitter bio reads 'Mommy. Marine Attack Helicopter Pilot. Test Pilot. NASA Astronaut. Excited to share my journey!'

Jasmin Moghbeli’s Twitter bio reads ‘Mommy. Marine Attack Helicopter Pilot. Test Pilot. NASA Astronaut. Excited to share my journey!’

In March, the 39-year-old was selected to be the commander for NASA's upcoming SpaceX Crew-7 mission to the International Space Station

In March, the 39-year-old was selected to be the commander for NASA’s upcoming SpaceX Crew-7 mission to the International Space Station

KEY FACTS

Astronaut Selection Year: 2017

Previous missions: SpaceX Crew-7 

Military Experience: U.S. Marine Corps

Colleges and Degrees: Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering with Information Technology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Master of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. Moghbeli also graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School in Patuxent River, Maryland.

Hobbies: Enjoys paddle boarding, dancing, flying kites, and skateboarding.

Jasmin Moghbeli’s Twitter bio reads ‘Mommy. Marine Attack Helicopter Pilot. Test Pilot. NASA Astronaut. Excited to share my journey!’

She is mother to twin girls and earlier this year tweeted: ‘Incredibly grateful to be a mom to these two, who fill my heart and never fail to make me smile!’ 

In March, the 39-year-old was selected to be the commander for NASA’s upcoming SpaceX Crew-7 mission to the International Space Station.

The mission is expected to launch no earlier than 2023 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. 

lt will be the first spaceflight for Moghbeli, who became a NASA astronaut in 2017.

She was born in what was then West Germany to an Iranian family, before her parents emigrated to the US.

Moghbeli later earned a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering with information technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she played volleyball and basketball.

She also loves to go skateboarding with her husband, as well as paddle boarding, dancing and flying kites. 

As a Marine Corps test pilot, she has flown more than 150 missions and accrued 2,000 hours of flight time in more than 25 different aircraft. 

She also graduated with honours from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School in Patuxent River, Maryland. 

At the time of her selection as an astronaut, Moghbeli was testing H-1 helicopters. 

Her dream of becoming an astronaut can be traced all the way back to sixth grade, when she did a book report on the first woman in space, Russian cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova.

She has said she remembers her mother helping to make a spacesuit to wear into class for the report. 

Verdict

Although she hasn’t yet been to space, Moghbeli will have the distinction of having been a commander if she launches to the International Space Station as planned in 2023. The downside is that will only be two years before NASA’s target moon landing date. This makes it more likely that she’ll be in line for future missions beyond Artemis III. That being said, Buzz Aldrin flew on Gemini 12 in 1966 – the tenth and final crewed Gemini flight – and he was on the moon less than three years later. So there’s every possibility for Moghbeli, who has extensive test pilot experience in the Marine Corps with 25 separate aircraft.

She is mother to twin girls and earlier this year tweeted: 'Incredibly grateful to be a mom to these two, who fill my heart and never fail to make me smile!'

She is mother to twin girls and earlier this year tweeted: ‘Incredibly grateful to be a mom to these two, who fill my heart and never fail to make me smile!’

Kate Rubins – 8/1 (The Virus Hunter)

Hometown: Napa, California

Age: 43

Time spent in space: 300 days, 1 hour and 31 minutes

Groundbreaking: Kate Rubins became the 60th woman to fly in space when she launched on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft to the International Space Station on July 7, 2016. During her mission she became the first person to sequence DNA in space

Groundbreaking: Kate Rubins became the 60th woman to fly in space when she launched on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft to the International Space Station on July 7, 2016. During her mission she became the first person to sequence DNA in space

During a tour of the museum in Baikonur, Kazakhstan in December 2015, the Expedition 46-47 backup crew members, including Rubins (centre), were treated to a traditional ceremony in a Kazakh 'yurt', or tent as they a break from their training

During a tour of the museum in Baikonur, Kazakhstan in December 2015, the Expedition 46-47 backup crew members, including Rubins (centre), were treated to a traditional ceremony in a Kazakh ‘yurt’, or tent as they a break from their training

KEY FACTS 

Astronaut Selection Year: 2009

Previous missions: Expedition 64, Soyuz MS-17, Expedition 63, Expedition 48, Expedition 49, Soyuz MS-01, Soyuz TMA-20M 

Colleges and Degrees: Bachelor of Science degree in Molecular Biology from the University of California, San Diego, and a Doctorate in Cancer Biology from Stanford University Medical School Biochemistry Department and Microbiology and Immunology Department.

Hobbies: Enjoys running, cycling, swimming, flying, scuba diving, and reading.

Kate Rubins became the 60th woman to fly in space when she launched on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft to the International Space Station on July 7, 2016. 

During her mission she became the first person to sequence DNA in space.

Across her two flights, she has spent a total of 300 days in space, the fourth longest stint by a US female astronaut. 

A microbiologist as well as a NASA astronaut, Rubins also holds a Ph.D. in cancer biology and calls herself a ‘former virus hunter’ on Twitter. 

When she was younger she didn’t dream of becoming an astronaut, but rather was more focused on studying and eradicating viruses.

That’s exactly what she did after receiving degrees from the University of California-San Diego and Stanford. 

Rubins later researched therapies for Ebola and Lassa viruses while helping to develop a smallpox infection model.

During her most recent trip to the International Space Station she worked on a heart experiment to study how changes in gravity affect cardiovascular cells at the cellular and tissue levels. 

Her results could provide new understanding of heart problems on Earth, help identify new treatments, and support development of screening measure to predict cardiovascular risk prior to spaceflight.

Last year, Rubins was sworn into the Army Reserve as a Major. 

When previously asked about the significance of becoming the first woman to walk on the moon, Rubins said: ‘I think it’s not so important whether it is a step for man or woman. This will be a step for humankind.’

Verdict

Rubins has spent the second most time in space among the female Artemis astronauts and is one of the front-runners based on experience alone. However, those with Army links haven’t traditionally been favoured by NASA. The first American in space, Alan Shepard, was a Navy pilot, and the first American to orbit the Earth, John Glenn, was a Marine. Of the three Apollo 11 astronauts, Armstrong had served in the Navy and Aldrin and Michael Collins were both Air Force pilots. In fact, here were not any Army astronauts until 1984. But Rubins has already written her name into history, having been the first person to sequence DNA in space. A moon landing is certainly not out of the question.

Rubins (back left) was part of the backup crew for Expedition 46-47, which featured Tim Peake (front left) on the prime crew

Rubins (back left) was part of the backup crew for Expedition 46-47, which featured Tim Peake (front left) on the prime crew

Jessica Watkins – 8/1 (The Geologist)

Hometown: Lafayette, Colorado

Age: 34 

Time spent in space: Currently in space!

Jessica Watkins is currently serving as a mission specialist on NASA's SpaceX Crew-4 mission to the International Space Station, which launched on April 27, 2022

Jessica Watkins is currently serving as a mission specialist on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission to the International Space Station, which launched on April 27, 2022

She has shared pictures of herself doing 'space plumbing' to fix a toilet on the ISS (pictured), and in a separate tweet added: 'One of my favorite parts about being in orbit is getting to observe geologic features on Earth from a planetary perspective'

She has shared pictures of herself doing ‘space plumbing’ to fix a toilet on the ISS (pictured), and in a separate tweet added: ‘One of my favorite parts about being in orbit is getting to observe geologic features on Earth from a planetary perspective’

KEY FACTS 

Astronaut Selection Year: 2017

Previous missions: SpaceX Crew-4 

Colleges and Degrees: Bachelor of Science in Geological and Environmental Sciences from Stanford University and Doctorate in Geology from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Hobbies: Enjoys rugby, basketball, soccer, skiing, coaching, movies, and writing.

Jessica Watkins is currently serving as a mission specialist on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission to the International Space Station, which launched on April 27, 2022. 

She has worked at NASA’s Ames Research Center and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and was a science team collaborator for NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity.

The Colorado native earned a Bachelor of Science in Geological and Environmental Sciences from Stanford University, and a Doctorate in Geology from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

She has been documenting her journey aboard the ISS on Twitter. 

In June Watkins wrote: ‘As beautiful as the Earth is, I can’t seem to take my eyes off of the moon. 

‘Every moonset on @Space_Station brings us one step closer to earthrise on the moon as we conduct scientific research and develop new technologies that will help pave the way to the lunar surface.’

She also shared pictures of herself doing ‘space plumbing’ to fix a toilet on the ISS, and in a separate tweet added: ‘One of my favorite parts about being in orbit is getting to observe geologic features on Earth from a planetary perspective. 

‘A great example is the Grand Canyon – truly grand both from afar and up close, but Valles Marineris on Mars is 4x as long, 4.5x as deep, and 20x as wide!’

Verdict

The youngest astronaut chosen for the original Artemis missions, Jessica Watkins is actually in space as we speak. It is her first time aboard the International Space Station as she gathers experience that could be vital in the selection process. She’s another who looks better placed to be an Artemis astronaut beyond the first 2025 moon landing, but her maiden stint in orbit will keep her firmly in contention for that milestone flight. 

The Colorado native earned a Bachelor of Science in Geological and Environmental Sciences from Stanford University, and a Doctorate in Geology from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

The Colorado native earned a Bachelor of Science in Geological and Environmental Sciences from Stanford University, and a Doctorate in Geology from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

Stephanie Wilson – 4/1F (The Favourite)

Hometown: Boston, Massachusetts

Age: 55 

Time spent in space: 42 days, 23 hours and 46 minutes

Trailblazer: Stephanie Wilson became the second Black woman in space and is a veteran of three Space Shuttle missions to the International Space Station – in 2006, 2007 and 2010

Trailblazer: Stephanie Wilson became the second Black woman in space and is a veteran of three Space Shuttle missions to the International Space Station – in 2006, 2007 and 2010

She is NASA's most senior, most flown-in-space African American female astronaut, having logged more than 42 days in orbit

She is NASA’s most senior, most flown-in-space African American female astronaut, having logged more than 42 days in orbit

KEY FACTS 

Astronaut Selection Year: 1996

Previous missions: STS-131, STS-121, STS-120 

Colleges and Degrees: Bachelor of Science in Engineering Science from Harvard University and Masters of Science in Aerospace Engineering from University of Texas at Austin.

Hobbies: Enjoys snow skiing, music, stamp collecting, and travelling.

Stephanie Wilson became the second Black woman in space and is a veteran of three Space Shuttle missions to the International Space Station — in 2006, 2007 and 2010.

She is NASA’s most senior, most flown-in-space African American female astronaut, having logged more than 42 days in orbit.

If selected as the First Woman, she would also take the title of the oldest person to have walked on the moon, eclipsing Alan Shepard’s record of 47 years and 80 days back in 1971.

She has been an astronaut longer than anyone else on the 18-strong Artemis team and has flown more times than all but one of them. 

Wilson earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering science at Harvard University and a master’s degree in aerospace engineering at the University of Texas.

She was the lead CAPCOM during the Columbia disaster in 2003 and again for the first all-woman spacewalk in 2019.

In 2009, 2013, and 2017, she served on the Astronaut Selection Board and currently acts as Astronaut Office Mission Support Crew Branch Chief. 

With regard to her lunar prospects, Wilson told Space.com: ‘I am of course excited to be included among the group and look forward to whoever the first woman is and the women who follow as part of the Artemis program to continue our studies of the moon, continue to descend down to the surface in a lander and hopefully to build a lunar base there on the moon and continue our journey from the Gateway orbiting laboratory.’

Verdict

NASA plans to send the first woman and the first person of colour to the moon as part of its Artemis program, and there’s every chance Stephanie Wilson will enter the history books for both. She is the only female astronaut shortlisted for Artemis who was selected by NASA prior to 2000. In fact, only Rubins – who joined the US space agency in 2009 – comes close in terms of length of service, and that is still shy by 13 years. The others have all been astronauts for less than a decade. That is a clear reason why Wilson is favourite. She certainly brings an enormous amount of experience to the team but will be nearly 60 when the moon-landing mission rolls around. It seems unlikely she would fly to space beyond that date, however, so the fact she’s shortlisted means she’s likely got a great chance to be on the 2025 flight that will land the first woman on the lunar surface. 

Wilson was the lead CAPCOM during the Columbia disaster in 2003 and again for the first all-woman spacewalk in 2019

Wilson was the lead CAPCOM during the Columbia disaster in 2003 and again for the first all-woman spacewalk in 2019

She has been an astronaut longer than anyone else on the 18-strong Artemis team and has flown more times than all but one of them. Wilson is pictured far left with the crew of STS-121, who flew to the ISS on the Space Shuttle Discovery in July 2006

She has been an astronaut longer than anyone else on the 18-strong Artemis team and has flown more times than all but one of them. Wilson is pictured far left with the crew of STS-121, who flew to the ISS on the Space Shuttle Discovery in July 2006

Who are the men who make up the 18-strong Artemis team?

Making the shortlist: NASA astronaut Joseph Acaba

Making the shortlist: NASA astronaut Joseph Acaba

  • Joseph Acaba
  • Raja Chari
  • Matthew Dominick
  • Victor Glover
  • Warren Hoburg
  • Jonny Kim
  • Kjell Lindgren
  • Frank Rubio
  • Scott Tingle

More info is available here.

NASA will land the first woman and first person of color on the moon in 2025 as part of the Artemis mission

Artemis was the twin sister of Apollo and goddess of the moon in Greek mythology. 

NASA has chosen her to personify its path back to the moon, which will see astronauts return to the lunar surface by 2025 –  including the first woman and the next man.

Artemis 1, formerly Exploration Mission-1, is the first in a series of increasingly complex missions that will enable human exploration to the moon and Mars. 

Artemis 1 will be the first integrated flight test of NASA’s deep space exploration system: the Orion spacecraft, Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and the ground systems at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.  

Artemis 1 will be an uncrewed flight that will provide a foundation for human deep space exploration, and demonstrate our commitment and capability to extend human existence to the moon and beyond. 

During this flight, the spacecraft will launch on the most powerful rocket in the world and fly farther than any spacecraft built for humans has ever flown.

It will travel 280,000 miles (450,600 km) from Earth, thousands of miles beyond the moon over the course of about a three-week mission. 

Artemis 1, formerly Exploration Mission-1, is the first in a series of increasingly complex missions that will enable human exploration to the moon and Mars. This graphic explains the various stages of the mission

Artemis 1, formerly Exploration Mission-1, is the first in a series of increasingly complex missions that will enable human exploration to the moon and Mars. This graphic explains the various stages of the mission

Orion will stay in space longer than any ship for astronauts has done without docking to a space station and return home faster and hotter than ever before. 

With this first exploration mission, NASA is leading the next steps of human exploration into deep space where astronauts will build and begin testing the systems near the moon needed for lunar surface missions and exploration to other destinations farther from Earth, including Mars. 

The will take crew on a different trajectory and test Orion’s critical systems with humans aboard. 

Together, Orion, SLS and the ground systems at Kennedy will be able to meet the most challenging crew and cargo mission needs in deep space.

Eventually NASA seeks to establish a sustainable human presence on the moon by 2028 as a result of the Artemis mission.

The space agency hopes this colony will uncover new scientific discoveries, demonstrate new technological advancements and lay the foundation for private companies to build a lunar economy. 

#Meet #hopeful #astronauts #vying #WOMAN #walk #moon

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