NASA's Artemis 2 commander woke up nervous before big moon announcement

commander reid wiseman smiling in his flight suit in an office
Artemis 2 commander Reid Wiseman in an interview just hours after the crew selection announcement on April 3, 2023. (Image credit: Elizabeth Howell)

HOUSTON — Reid Wiseman, a combat-tested former fighter pilot who executed more than 500 career landings on aircraft carriers, woke up nervous yesterday.

Wiseman was officially named commander of the Artemis 2 mission during a high-octane, live-streamed NASA event on Monday (April 3). He will be only the 10th astronaut ever to command a moon mission. But in getting ready for the big reveal, he did what all good astronauts do: turn to their crew.

On stage at Ellington Field near NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC), Wiseman worked closely with NASA's Christina Koch and Victor Glover, along with Canadian Space Agency astronaut Jeremy Hansen, to move through the emotions. 

"I already see how we manage each other's adrenaline," Wiseman said in a small media interview at JSC just hours after the event. "That nervousness, that adrenaline, it brings you up and allows you — if it's managed — to focus." 

Related: NASA names Artemis 2 astronaut crew for 1st lunar mission since Apollo

Wiseman, 47, was selected in June 2009 and is a veteran of Expeditions 40 and 41 on the International Space Station, living on the orbiting lab for nearly six months in 2014. Prior to that, the naval aviator made two deployments to the Middle East, attended the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School and completed numerous flight test programs, among other milestones. He was, as one would expect, at sea when selected as an astronaut.

That tough experience in remote environments comes highly prized by NASA, especially in preparing for the first moon mission since Apollo 17 in 1972. Wiseman was careful to pay tribute to his home team, including flight directors, family and colleagues who will support him and his crew on Artemis 2, which set to lift off no sooner than November 2024.

Related: Why will NASA's Artemis 2 only fly around the moon, not orbit or land?

The Artemis 2 crew, from left: pilot Victor Glover, commander Reid Wiseman and mission specialists Jeremy Hansen and Christina Koch. Together, they will become the first people to fly to the moon in more than 50 years. (Image credit: NASA/Robert Markowitz)

Artemis 2's nominal mission is to loop around the moon and test key hardware, including seeing all four astronauts fly the Orion spacecraft to assess its readiness for future missions, including excursions to the moon and the Gateway space station, which NASA plans to build in lunar orbit.

"It is going out and ... making sure Orion is as ready as it possibly can to do a crewed landing, or to start assembling Gateway, or whatever the agency needs us to go do next," Wiseman said of the mission, adding, "It is [also] looking at those next crews and how can we best posture right for that."

If all goes well, Artemis 2 will kick off a new series of moon excursions, with the next mission, Artemis 3, touching down near the moon's south pole in 2025 or so.

Elizabeth Howell is the co-author of "Why Am I Taller?" (ECW Press, 2022; with Canadian astronaut Dave Williams), a book about space medicine. Follow her on Twitter @howellspace. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: