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Buckle Up, Folks: We’re Going Back to the Moon for the First Time in 50 Years

For the first time in more than half a century, humans are heading back to the moon. NASA has announced the names of the four astronauts who will embark on Artemis II for a fly-by sightseeing tour scheduled for late next year.

The crew is made up of three Americans—Commander Reid Wiseman, Pilot Victor Glover, and Mission Specialist Christina Koch—as well as Jeremy Hansen, of the Canadian Space Agency, who is also a mission specialist.

The crew won’t actually get to walk among the craters this time around. Instead, they’ll take a 10-day trip around the moon and then head back to Earth. This mission will set the stage for more human exploration on the moon’s surface in the future, reports The BBC. NASA’s ultimate plan is to investigate water ice hidden deep within the moon’s craters. 

“From the experience on the moon, NASA hopes to chart a path to putting humans on Mars, while scientists expect to use what is found there to answer questions about how the solar system formed,” The New York Times reported.

This mission will also pave the way for the first “long-term presence on the Moon,” NASA wrote in the press release announcing the astronauts’ names. “Then, we will use what we learn on and around the Moon to take the next giant leap: sending the first astronauts to Mars.”

It’s likely that the next mission to put boots on the moon’s surface, called Artemis III, will happen in 2025 or 2026.

In the meantime, embark on your own celestial mission by finding a great spot to watch the upcoming Lyrid Meteor Shower, which could send shooting stars through the sky at a rate of 100 per hour. Or, if you’re planning to be out West this fall, consider planning a trip to one of the 20 national parks that will be right in the path of the Northern Hemisphere’s next solar eclipse.

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