Vice President Mike Pence reveals 18 NASA astronauts for new moon missions

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida -- A return to the moon is in sight as Vice President Mike Pence revealed on Wednesday the astronauts who will be launching in a few years.

A group of 18 astronauts were introduced as part of the Artemis program, roughly more than a third of the entire NASA Astronaut Corps.

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Artemis is a $28 billion plan to send the first woman to the moon by 2024.

While 18 are named to the program, the announcement doesn't mean all of them will eventually land on the lunar surface. Wednesday's revelation will not be crew assignments for the mission, which are typically handled by the Houston-based chief of the Astronaut Office and the Flight Operations Directorate, according to Ars Technica Senior Space Editor Eric Berger.

"My fellow Americans, I give you the heroes of the future who'll carry us back to the Moon and beyond - the Artemis generation," Pence said as he introduced the Artemis team of 18, including nine women.

Those members include:
  • Joe Acaba
  • Kayla Barron
  • Raja Chari
  • Matthew Dominick
  • Victor Glover
  • Warren Hoburg
  • Jonny Kim
  • Christina Koch
  • Kjell Lindgren
  • Nicole Mann
  • Anne McClain
  • Jessica Meir
  • Jasmin Moghbell
  • Kate Rubins
  • Frank Rubio
  • Scott Tingle
  • Jessica Watkins
  • Stephanie Wilson

Glover and Rubins are currently in orbit on board the International Space Station.

Pence made the announcement at today's meeting of the National Space Council at Cape Canaveral, where he also announced Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's renaming Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

The trip would mark the first time humans would land on the moon since 1972, and would be the third Artemis mission.

SEE ALSO: Moon landing 51st anniversary: A look back at July 20, 1969

Artemis I is expected to launch in 2021 with two test flights around the moon without astronauts. Artemis II will launch in 2023 with astronauts on board, and Artemis III will bring astronauts back to the moon's surface in 2024.

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The Apollo 11 crew successfully landed on the moon on July 20, 1969.

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