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NASA astronauts-in-training dream of the moon

NASA's 10 astronauts in training.

Nichole Ayers, Christopher Williams, Luke Delaney, Jessica Wittner, Anil Menon, Marcos Berríos, Jack Hathaway, Christina Birch, Deniz Burnham and Andre Douglas.

Photo: NASA

During the two years of intense training that awaits them, this star will undoubtedly be in everyone’s mind. And he was probably at the heart of the concerns of the space agency when choosing these ten Americans with very diverse backgrounds.

Among them are high level scientists. Chris Williams, 38, is a medical physicist who has worked in particular to better target radiation to treat cancer patients.

I was very inspired by the missions to the Moon as a child, so NASA’s Artemis program, to return to the moon in a sustainable way, is something that excites me and I am very excited about it. ‘to be part of it, he told AFP.

Artistic illustration showing astronauts working on the surface of the Moon.

Artistic illustration showing astronauts working on the surface of the Moon.

Photo: NASA

Christina Birch holds a doctorate in biological engineering. His dream of space emerged in connection with his work in the laboratory: As I was doing these experiments with cells and proteins, and seeing that similar experiments were being conducted aboard the space station, I thought to myself: hey, but I have these skills!

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Another (surprising) bowstring of this 35-year-old woman: she won medals with the US track cycling team at the world championships.

I love having a training plan towards a big goal. This is something that I have been very used to trying to qualify for the Olympics, successfully, she explained.

Unlike the many experienced pilots chosen, however, she has no flying experience and looks forward to jet training.

The fastest I’ve been is in a velodrome, propelled by myself, she jokes.

NASA aims to return humans to the Moon from 2025, and establish a base there to prepare for travel to Mars. To achieve this, it has in particular hired the services of a private company, SpaceX, which is to supply the lander.

A sign of the times, one of the ten future astronauts selected has been a SpaceX employee since 2018.

Anil Menon, dean of the new promotion at 45, worked as a medic for the various missions of Elon Musk’s company, having sent humans to the international space station.

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He, whose fifth candidacy to become an astronaut, helped extract Frenchman Thomas Pesquet from the company capsule on his return to Earth, after six months in orbit.

It will be amazing to be able to do this experience myself, he said. As a doctor, I will see it differently […] I think medical knowledge will keep people healthy and safe when we go there, on the Moon then Mars.

Born to parents from India and Ukraine, he is also used to working under difficult emergency conditions. In 2010, he went to Haiti to help after a devastating earthquake. Then, in 2015, he accidentally landed in Nepal minutes before an earthquake, where he will once again help treat patients flocking to local clinics.

Future astronauts will relocate to Texas for their training, provided at the Johnson Space Center. They will practice spacewalks, develop robotics skills, learn to operate and maintain the International Space Station, but also to speak Russian.

Chris Williams admits it, it will be a big change for our families. But it’s an exhilarating new adventure.

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