Alumna Christina Koch to Orbit the Moon on Artemis II
Christina Koch (BS EE ’01; MS EE ’02) named to NASA’s Artemis II crew, venturing around the Moon on a 10-day mission
April 3, 2023 Charles Hall
NASA and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) announced the four astronauts who will venture around the Moon on Artemis II, the first crewed mission on NASA’s path to establishing a long-term presence at the Moon for science and exploration through Artemis. The agencies revealed the crew members Monday during an event at Ellington Field near NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. NASA announced last month the intent for this mission to launch in November 2024, followed by a Moon landing the following year.
“The Artemis II crew represents thousands of people working tirelessly to bring us to the stars. This is their crew, this is our crew, this is humanity’s crew,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “NASA astronauts Reid Wiseman, Victor Glover, and Christina Hammock Koch, and CSA astronaut Jeremy Hansen, each has their own story, but, together, they represent our creed: E pluribus unum – out of many, one. Together, we are ushering in a new era of exploration for a new generation of star sailors and dreamers – the Artemis Generation.”
The crew assignments are as follows: Commander Reid Wiseman, Pilot Victor Glover, Mission Specialist 1 Christina Hammock Koch, and Mission Specialist 2 Jeremy Hansen. They will work as a team to execute an ambitious set of demonstrations during the flight test.
Koch, who grew up in Jacksonville, North Carolina, earned bachelor’s degrees in electrical engineering and physics (2001), and a master’s degree in electrical engineering (2002) from North Carolina State University.
Koch started her career as an electrical engineer focusing on space science instrument design at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. She went on to work as a research associate with the United States Antarctic Program, completing several deployments including spending the winter at the South Pole. She returned to space science instrument design at the Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory, contributing to such missions as the Juno probe to Jupiter. She then returned to her work at remote scientific research stations, including sessions as a field engineer in the Arctic and as station chief with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in American Samoa.
Koch will be making her second flight into space on the Artemis II mission. She served as flight engineer aboard the space station for Expedition 59, 60, and 61. Koch set a record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman with a total of 328 days in space and participated in the first all-female spacewalks.
The approximately 10-day Artemis II flight test will launch on the agency’s powerful Space Launch System rocket, prove the Orion spacecraft’s life-support systems, and validate the capabilities and techniques needed for humans to live and work in deep space.
“We are going back to the Moon and Canada is at the center of this exciting journey,” said the Honorable François-Philippe Champagne, the minister responsible for the Canadian Space Agency. “Thanks to our longstanding collaboration with NASA, a Canadian astronaut will fly on this historic mission. On behalf of all Canadians, I want to congratulate Jeremy for being at the forefront of one of the most ambitious human endeavors ever undertaken. Canada’s participation in the Artemis program is not only a defining chapter of our history in space, but also a testament to the friendship and close partnership between our two nations.”
The flight, set to build upon the successful uncrewed Artemis I mission completed in December, will set the stage for the first woman and first person of color on the Moon through the Artemis program, paving the way for future for long-term human exploration missions to the Moon, and eventually Mars. This is the agency’s Moon to Mars exploration approach.
“For the first time in more than 50 years, these individuals – the Artemis II crew – will be the first humans to fly to the vicinity of the Moon. Among the crew are the first woman, first person of color, and first Canadian on a lunar mission, and all four astronauts will represent the best of humanity as they explore for the benefit of all,” said Director Vanessa Wyche, NASA Johnson. “This mission paves the way for the expansion of human deep space exploration and presents new opportunities for scientific discoveries, commercial, industry and academic partnerships and the Artemis Generation.”
“I could not be prouder that these brave four will kickstart our journeys to the Moon and beyond,” said Director of Flight Operations Norm Knight, NASA Johnson. “They represent exactly what an astronaut corps should be: a mix of highly capable and accomplished individuals with the skills and determination to take on any trial as a team. The Artemis II mission will be challenging, and we’ll test our limits as we prepare to put future astronauts on the Moon. With Reid, Victor, Christina, and Jeremy at the controls, I have no doubt we’re ready to face every challenge that comes our way.”
Through Artemis missions, NASA will use innovative technologies to explore more of the lunar surface than ever before. We will collaborate with commercial and international partners and establish the first long-term presence on the Moon. Then, we will use what we learn on and around the Moon to take the next giant leap: sending the first astronauts to Mars.