NASA picks its space Canuck

For Ontario’s Jeremy Hansen, the sky is not the limit. NASA is sending him to deep space.

What happened: The former Royal Canadian Air Force pilot will be one of four astronauts on the Artemis II, the first mission to the moon in half a century. The Artemis II will loop around Earth, rocket around the Moon, and head back over the course of ten days.

Why it matters: It’s the first time a Canadian will go beyond Earth’s orbit. Hansen is also taking part in an early stage of NASA’s plan to establish a base on the moon, and ultimately use it as a launchpad to get humans to Mars.

  • The (super-long-term) plan is to build a base on the lunar surface and launch a spaceship called the Gateway into the moon’s orbit, with research at both facilities laying the groundwork for a years-long journey to the Red Planet… in the late 2030s.

Catch up: Canada started working with NASA to send its first satellite, the Alouette 1, into orbit in the 1960s. NASA’s last trip to the moon was in 1972: In the ensuing decades, declining public interest in space exploration led the US government to cut related spending from about 4% of the federal budget in 1965 to ~0.4% now.

  • Space-wise, Canada is probably best known for the hulking Canadarm robotic arms that started going up on Space Shuttles in the 1980s, but those spacecraft stuck to Earth’s orbit.

What’s next: Artemis II is scheduled for launch in November of 2024, and NASA is hoping to actually land people on the moon in 2025.