Canada’s Jeremy Hansen says Artemis II moon mission ‘harder than I thought’

Click to play video: '‘We’re charting a course to Mars’: Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen reflects on moon mission'
‘We’re charting a course to Mars’: Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen reflects on moon mission
WATCH: Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen and the rest of the Artemis II crew are gearing up for their mission to the moon in November 2024. Farah Nasser speaks with Hansen about his initial impressions of the space capsule, the challenges of preparing to go to the moon, how the mission could be a launchpad to travel to Mars, and his thoughts on UFOs – Aug 10, 2023

The four-member crew that will orbit the moon in late 2024 as part of the Artemis II is “fired up” after seeing the Orion spacecraft they will use for the first time.

The crew includes Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen, who said during a press conference Tuesday that the ship made a “real impression” and that the preparations for the mission have humbled him.

“I already knew going to the moon was hard,” he said. “Boy, it’s harder than I thought.”

Hansen, a CF-18 fighter pilot from London, Ont., will be the first Canadian to travel around the moon — the rest of the crew is American. NASA’s Orion spacecraft will circle Earth’s orbit and then shoot to the moon, where it will do a figure eight around it before coming back home.

Click to play video: 'Checking in with the crew of Artemis II'
Checking in with the crew of Artemis II

Hansen said that seeing Orion’s capsule for the first time and spending time inside it “sent shivers down our spines.”

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“It makes an impression,” he said.

The mission will take up to 10 days and is seen as a launching pad for the Artemis III mission, slated to be a two-person lunar landing that could happen by December 2025. NASA said Tuesday that that timeline is still the objective. The end goal is to go to Mars by the late 2030s.

Despite the challenges of sending humans to the moon for the first time in over 50 years, NASA is pushing forward with the Artemis II mission that is still planned for the end of November next year. Artemis I, an unmanned spacecraft, orbited the moon in late 2021 and NASA says provided valuable information.

NASA has repeatedly said its end goal with the missions, which may go up to Artemis VI, is to send humans to Mars, and the flights to the moon are just a small part of that larger goal.

“Artemis II is the tiniest footnote in the Artemis campaign,” Reid Wiseman, the captain of the crew, said Tuesday.

Click to play video: 'Jeremy Hansen: From the stars to the Stampede'
Jeremy Hansen: From the stars to the Stampede

The moon could play an important role in that objective if enough water is found in its South Pole, according to NASA administrator Bill Nelson.

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“We’re going back (to the moon) to learn to live in a deep space environment for long periods of time so that we can go to Mars and return safely,” he said.

“We’re going to venture out into the cosmos.”

Future moon trips will involve commercial and international partners, Nelson said. NASA is already working with Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which is developing a version of its Starship rocket to deliver the Artemis III crew and their lunar lander.

While the Artemis II mission is “not without risk,” NASA said, it reiterated that the safety of the crew is paramount. The mission will help show the effects of space, with experiments mostly focused on the effects of radiation on the crew.

Wiseman noted that the mission will include three orbits of earth before heading to the moon, which will provide a 24-hour opportunity to abort the mission if anything looks off.

“I really like the way safety is built into this mission,” he said.

The last mission to the moon was in December 1972 as part of NASA’s Apollo program. So far, 24 men, all Americans, have visited the moon and half of them have walked on it.

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