HOUSTON — Canada's leader is "geeking out" about the next crewed moon mission.
That mission — NASA's Artemis 2 lunar flyby, planned for late 2024 — features one Canadian astronaut among its four crewmembers: Jeremy Hansen.
Hansen got a call from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ahead of the big Artemis 2 crew reveal on Monday (April 3). The conversation, which was posted to Trudeau's YouTube channel on Monday, begins with pleasantries but quickly dives into why the prime minister is so excited about space.
"One of the things I've been enjoying geeking out on, over the past while, has been explaining to people why this matters," Trudeau says in the video.
"For close to 50 years, none of the people — hundreds of people who've gone to space — have seen the full circle of the Earth. I mean, we've got beautiful pictures from orbiters and from the ISS [International Space Station], but you don't see the full circle."
Related: Why will NASA's Artemis 2 only fly around the moon, not orbit or land?
Technically speaking, not all the Apollo astronauts saw Earth exactly as a full circle at all times, because it goes through phases from the moon's perspective. But the politician is simply saying that nobody has left Earth orbit in half a century, which is quite true.
Trudeau also correctly added that only 24 people have gone on moon missions and that all were Americans, who were flying as part of NASA's Apollo program, between 1968 and 1972.
"This is a big deal that it's a Canadian, and it's you, Jeremy," Trudeau said of Artemis 2. "I just cannot [believe] and people, people get even more excited than they already were when they understand how momentous this is."
Hansen used the opportunity to thank the prime minister for introducing a federal budget last month that included substantial spending on moon projects, including funding a lunar utility vehicle and renewing a Canadian incubator program for companies called the Lunar Exploration Accelerator Program (LEAP).
The seat for Artemis 2 came courtesy of another set of major Trudeau government budgetary announcements in 2019 that brought Canadarm3 to public attention. The robotic arm will service Gateway, the small space station that NASA plans to build in lunar orbit. This big contribution to NASA's Artemis program earned Canada a seat on Artemis 2.
"We're really grateful and excited," Hansen said in the video, speaking with Trudeau, referring to the funding support the Canadian Space Agency has received in recent years.
"We have a lot a lot more work to do, but that's what we absolutely thrive on," Hansen added. "We love these challenges, and so this is super exciting. You bet on us. You bet on industry. And I'm completely convinced Canada won't let you down."
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.
Geeking is a term used by drug users to describe binge crack use – or using crack cocaine over and over in a short period of time at increasingly higher doses. Once a person is addicted, they will do anything to get the drug, including stealing or even prostitution.
I was in a corn field when Apollo 11 landed, then I got allowed in a farmer's trailer-home to watch Neil Armstrong get step onto the surface. One could sense the whole world was watching, and the viewer count proved they were.
However, as a Canadian I am very proud of Canada's record in space. For a country with such a small population, I think we have been punching above our weight.
We are happy to be partners with our best friends, and cousins to the South. Two peas in a pod (even if one of the peas is HUGE).