NASA’s Artemis missions are aiming to put humanity back on the moon within the next couple of years with Artemis III. But the U.S. Vice President, Kamala Harris, doesn’t want to stop there. She says that the Artemis program will land an international astronaut on the moon before the end of the decade.
Harris reiterated the importance that NASA’s crewed return to the moon remains an international affair during the third meeting of the National Space Council (NSC), which she currently chairs. Harris also pledged that NASA’s Artemis program will deliver a non-American to the lunar surface in the near future.
It’s very likely we could see this international Artemis astronaut included on Artemis III, as NASA has yet to announce any specific astronauts for that mission. However, we do know that one European astronaut will be included on both Artemis 4 and Artemis 5, as ESA Director Josef Aschbacher announced that back in July.
Those two missions are currently expected to launch sometime in 2028 and 2029, respectively, though there aren’t any solid launch windows available for any of these upcoming Artemis missions yet, as there are a lot of moving parts to get ready for launches of this magnitude.
Additionally, before any Artemis astronauts can touch down on the moon, a human-prepped lander like SpaceX’s Human Landing System needs to be tested and proven. We still haven’t seen a completely successful Starship test just yet, so it’s unclear where SpaceX stands on meeting the goals set for the upcoming Artemis missions by NASA.
However, Harris’s continued claims that an international astronaut will grace Artemis this decade should be notable for other countries. While we may be in a new space race, this isn’t the race that we had in the 1970s, when the United States and other countries worked to meet their own goals. Things will go a lot further if we all just work through it with some international cooperation.