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The Artemis 2 astronauts are already preparing to return to Earth

Their journey around the moon is scheduled to take place only in September 2025, but the four astronauts on the Artemis 2 mission are already preparing for their return and training for eight days at sea with the US Navy off the coast of California.

“It's crazy. It's the kind of thing that only happens in movies and we live it every day.”Commander Reed Wiseman said Wednesday at Naval Base San Diego, wearing his blue astronaut uniform.

The night before, the foursome had been on a small inflatable raft in the Pacific Ocean.

Aboard a massive amphibious assault ship, hundreds of American sailors, divers and military pilots had to coordinate their efforts to rescue and airlift the space explorers. An essential rehearsal for the implementation of what will be the final stage of the historic mission.

Weissman and his three colleagues will become the first humans to approach the Moon since the end of the Apollo program more than 50 years ago.

If all goes well, they will fly past Earth's satellite during a ten-day flight aboard the Orion capsule, before returning to sea.

Mars goal

How to deal with a potential storm? What action should be taken if an astronaut is injured? What can be done to lure the empty capsule into the ship's hold?

Training allows us to process all these details, thanks to a life-sized replica of Orion: a large black cone nicknamed “Darth Vader,” for its resemblance to the “Star Wars” villain’s helmet.

“We are constantly thinking about what we will do,” Lily Villareal, a NASA official supervising the return phase of the mission, told AFP. “We have to prepare for all scenarios.”

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With the Artemis program, humanity is returning to the Moon, not to reach it, but for the sake of it “Serving” There is always, remember.

While the Artemis 2 mission will be limited to a flyby of the moon, the programme's third mission, scheduled for the end of 2026, will instead have to transport humans to the star.

The goal is to send missions lasting several weeks, then create a surface base and a space station in lunar orbit, capable of serving as a launching point for the invasion of Mars. Because now the Red Planet is what interests NASA.

“Our land has limited resources,” Villarreal emphasizes. “That's why we have to find out what we can do for the good of humanity.”

“leads”

But restoring the Moon goes beyond the simple ambition of turning it into a launching pad into deep space.

For many years, private companies dreamed of sending tourists, and new powers such as India, Japan and China managed to land on the moon.

Beijing also aims to take humans to the moon by 2030, putting pressure on NASA not to pile up delays.

In this context, “the question is not actually why we are going there, but whether we will be in front or not,” estimates Christina Koch, another Artemis 2 astronaut.

Koch will be the first woman to venture into space so far and will be accompanied by Canadian Jeremy Hansen and Victor Glover, the first black astronaut to participate in a mission to the moon.

Through its new program, NASA aims to have a black woman and man walk on the moon for the first time.

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The Apollo program actually sent 24 men, all white, to the Moon between 1969 and 1972. Only eight of them are still alive, and like the US Navy, some of the veterans have taken their successors under their wings.

Thomas Stafford, who was part of Apollo 10, invited the Artemis 2 team to lunch, according to Weissman.

“We immediately asked: (…) What will you do if the computers go down?” Have you thought about how your paths will work?said the astronaut. “He immediately acted like a father who wanted to make sure his children got out safe and sound.”