Planning a Moon mission is nothing compared to planning a meeting, apparently.
NASA's upcoming Artemis II mission , set to launch in November 2024, will see the first humans return to the moon in over 50 years— assuming everything goes according to plan.
Needless to say, it's a pretty big deal, so Joseph Acaba, chief of the space agency's astronaut office, wanted to inform the lucky three NASA astronauts that they were chosen for the lunar mission in a memorable way.
"You wanted to find a way to get all those individuals in the same room without them knowing what it is — to make it special for them," Acaba told The New York Times.
But as it turns out, throwing a "Surprise! You're going to the Moon!" party is comically difficult to coordinate, even with the most competent people on the planet.
Meeting of the Minds
First Acaba had to ensure that the selected crew were all around on the same day at the Johnson Space Center. Then, Acaba had to summon each of the astronauts to fake meetings to throw off their scent.
Which was easier said than done. Victor Glover, the mission's pilot, had just gotten out of an unrelated lunch meeting.
"I was like, 'Hey boss, I'm going to be a few minutes late,'" he told NYT. "I sent him a text message."
Christina Koch, the mission specialist, was at the Neutral Buoyancy Lab miles away and figured she could attend remotely. "I texted our boss and said, 'Hey, can we just meet virtually?' And he said, 'Nope.'"
And finally, Reid Wiseman, the mission's commander, was stuck at a doctor's appointment.
Eventually, after all, three astronauts finally got to his office, Acaba told them the news.
"They were a little bit late," Acaba said. "And luckily, I didn't want to change my mind."
Who knew it was this difficult to gather a group of astronauts, who are about to make history by flying to the Moon and back, for an in-person meeting?
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