NASA announces Artemis 2 lunar mission backup astronaut – Andre Douglas will support 2025 lunar transition

NASA has a backup astronaut for the first human lunar mission in more than 50 years, which will lift off no earlier than 2025.

NASA astronaut Andre Douglas will serve as backup to the three US astronauts on the Artemis 2 lunar orbiter, the agency announced today (July 3). Douglas will support commander Reid Wiseman, pilot Victor Glover and mission specialist Christina Koch. Canadian Space Agency (CSA) astronaut Jeremy Hansen, who is also a mission specialist on Artemis 2, already has a backup: astronaut Jenni Gibbons, also with CSA.

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“I’ve always been interested in new things. I like developing things,” Douglas told in March about the Artemis program, which aims to put astronauts on the surface later this decade. the moon for the first time since 1972.” I really believe in pushing ourselves, to understand our true potential: me as an individual, [and] within each of us as a species.”

“This is the perfect place to be, where we’re going to push that limit,” he said.

Douglas was selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in 2021, and achieved full astronaut status in March this year after completing his training. Prior to joining the agency, he served in the US Coast Guard in various roles, and earned several postdoctoral degrees in technical fields ranging from naval architecture to systems engineering.

Immediately prior to astronaut selection, Douglas was a senior professional staff member at Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) working on several high-profile space missions. “That was your favorite time,” said Douglas.

an astronaut in a space suit at night.  he looks closely at a plastic bag with a sample inside

an astronaut in a space suit at night. he looks closely at a plastic bag with a sample inside

He was a fault management engineer, for example, on NASA’s Double Asteroid Test (DART). The historic mission was the first to change the orbit of an asteroid’s moon around a larger space rock after a deliberate collision in 2022.

“I was scripting a software project to help put the spacecraft into safe mode, if anything was anomalous,” Douglas said, noting that the mission was “pretty awesome” as it turned out. it is that kinetic planetary defense against hazardous asteroids is workable.

In addition, Douglas worked on a large instrument for the Martian Moons Exploration (MMX) mission, scheduled to fly to the Red Planet in late 2026. The instrument is called MEGANE (Mars-moon Exploration by Gamma Ray and Neutron). and will support a large model. the goal of the mission is to learn the composition of Phobos and Deimos, the two moons of Mars.

Related: Helping build tool for Japan’s Mars mission ‘favorite time’ for new NASA astronaut (exclusive)

diagram showing a spacecraft approaching an asteroiddiagram showing a spacecraft approaching an asteroid

diagram showing a spacecraft approaching an asteroid

In May, Douglas even tried lunar simulations in the field: he worked for a week at the San Francisco Volcanic Field near Flagstaff, Arizona, with NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, to test an updated spacesuit in a moonlit desert area during daylight and night. conditions.

“Andre’s educational background and extensive operational experience in his various positions prior to joining NASA are clear evidence of their eagerness to support this mission,” Joe Acaba, chief astronaut at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, said in the statement of the agency under the Artemis 2 backup selection.

“He has been extremely successful in his astronaut candidate training and technical assignments,” Acaba added, “and we are confident that he will continue to do so as a NASA backup crew member for Artemis 2.”


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Artemis 2 is following a diverse set of experiences in its crew: Glover, Koch and Hansen will be the first Black, woman and non-American to orbit the moon, respectively.

Earlier this year, the mission liftoff was pushed back nine months to September 2025 to further test the heat shield, among other critical things. Artemis 3, a landing attempt, is expected to take place no earlier than 2026.

In interviews with in May, three members of the Artemis 2 crew (Koch was not available) emphasized that development missions must move at the pace of safety and learning, and that meeting schedules are not the goal.

“At the end of the day,” Hansen told at the time, “I think it’s also important to recognize that we’re not going to be able to zero this risk. We’ll learn everything we can in our test facilities, and [in what] science can be achieved on earth. And then ultimately, we will still have some unknown risk that we will have to accept.

“But that’s part of space exploration.”

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