NASA's Artemis program is set to land the very first person of color to advance its equity for all push, the US space agency announced. Artemis's new goal, which also seeks to bring the first woman and the next man on the Moon's south pole in 2024, is an initiative of the administration of US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. 

NASA Artemis Program Gets Needed Boost

The administration showed President Biden's 2022 discretionary spending priorities, calling for a six percent increase from the previous year, would further boost NASA's missions, acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk said in a statement.

"This $24.7 billion funding request demonstrates the Biden Administration's commitment to NASA and its partners who have worked so hard this past year under difficult circumstances and achieved unprecedented success," Jurczyk said in a CNN report.

NASA Artemis
(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

He adds that the president's discretionary request increases NASA's ability to better understand Earth and further monitor and predict the impacts of climate change. He said that It also gives NASA the necessary resources to continue advancing America's bipartisan Moon to Mars space exploration plan, including landing the first woman and first person of color on the Moon under the Artemis program.

The fiscal year request would help NASA stay on track to bring humans to the Moon while advancing President's "equity for all" approach.

NASA on Path to Bring First Woman, Person of Color to the Moon

This funding request "keeps NASA on the path to landing the first woman and the first person of color on the moon under the Artemis program. This goal aligns with President Biden's commitment to pursue a comprehensive approach to advancing equity for all," a NASA statement read.

This statement showed that NASA was definite in sending a person of color to the moon, unlike previous comments stating that "the first woman and the next man" will be landing on the moon.

While Artemis's first cadre of crewmembers, which consist of a diverse team of 18 astronauts, was known in December, the first two astronauts for Artemis II have yet to be announced.

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Artemis astronauts include Matthew Dominick, Anne McClain, Raja Chari, Warren "Woody" Hoburg Frank Rubio, Jessica Watkins, Jonny Kim, Christina Koch, Nicole Mann, Joseph Acaba, Jasmin Moghbeli, Kayla Barron, Kate Rubins, Victor Glover Jr., Kjell Lindgren, Jessica Meir, Scott Tingle, and Stephanie Wilson.

Historic Moments Advancing Equity for All Mankind

With a person of color planned to be a part of the crew for the first moon landing since the Apollo program in 1972, NASA said the Artemis program would be one of the "historic moments advancing equity for all mankind."

"Women and people of color represent a significant contributing portion of all facets of NASA's workforce, and the last two astronaut classes selected have included the highest percentage of women in history," acting NASA chief of staff Bhavya Lal said.

"Fifty percent of the 2013 National class was female and 45% of the 2017 class. And today, African American, Asian Pacific Islander, Hispanic and multiracial astronauts are about a quarter of NASA's active astronaut corps."

Such diversity is a necessity at NASA, Lal further said, because not only it can help in strengthening mission capability, but also in advancing important initiatives in taking humans into space.

The astronauts returning to the Moon will serve as a proving ground before eventually bringing them to Mars, which is another long-term push of the Artemis program.

Preparing for Mars Exploration

Artemis would not be the same "flags and footprints" mission as with the Apollo program, but a sustained presence to get ready for an eventual exploration to Mars.

When the astronauts set foot on the Moon's south pole for the very first time, they will carry the legacy of the previous Apollo missions.

NASA is set to bring the uncrewed Artemis I to a flyby of the moon in November. Artemis II, meanwhile, will have a crew on board and take them to a flyby of the Moon in August 2023. Artemis III would then land astronauts on the south pole of the Moon.

The president's discretionary request shall also include assisting NASA's robotic exploration of space, fortifying aviation technology, and fund the agency's science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) outreach for underserved students.

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Check out more news and information on NASA's Artemis program on Science Times