"It’s not always the most equitable or transparent process."
As NASA's Artemis program plods toward a followup mission, the agency is undertaking its secretive selection process to decide who will be sent to the Moon for the first time in 50 years.
Per a CNN report, the agency isn't quite ready to name any names until "sometime in the spring" for the mission that will first see a crewed orbital mission in 2024 and then a Moon landing the following year.
The entire process of astronaut selection is extremely clandestine, but the news outlet was able to glean an inside look at the selection process by interviewing nearly a dozen former and current NASA officials and found out who's on the agency buzz shortlist: decorated naval aviator Reid Wiseman as the probable chief of the mission; Christina Koch and Jessica Meir, the first women to ever do an all-female space walk; Army pilot Anne McClain, Stephanie Wilson, who's the most senior astronaut of the bunch; and Jeremy Hansen, who might fill the single Canadian seat on the internationally-funded mission.
As former NASA astronaut Garrett Reisman told CNN, the final selection process can end up being surprisingly petty.
"The problem is it can be influenced by trivial things, like what size spacesuit you wear. If there is only a medium and a large and you need the extra-large, you’re screwed. You’re not going to get assigned to the mission," he said. "It can be crazy, little things that dictate how it all comes out and it’s not always the most equitable or transparent process."
The flight assignment process apparently used to be even more mystery-shrouded, but as CNN notes, astronauts still have to wait along with everyone else to learn who will be sent up — a nail-biting prospect if there ever was one, especially on a mission as important as historic as Artemis.
"This is a special and unique opportunity," Reisman, the potential chief of the mission, said, "and, frankly, I’m going to be super jealous of whoever they pick."
And even though it sounds like a mighty difficult job that carries some pretty freaky health risks, we're honestly kind of envious too.
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