Artemis 2 moon astronauts dive into giant NASA pool for splashdown training (photos)

a cone-shaped capsule in a pool with a raft beside it. the raft has 3 astronauts in orange pumpkin suits
The Artemis 2 moon crew practices for splashdown at NASA's Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory in images released in January 2024. (Image credit: NASA/ Josh Valcarcel)

The next astronaut moon crew did some pool practice to simulate their splashdown in the open water.

The four Artemis 2 astronauts recently practiced for the end of their mission in the ocean, but in an indoor facility for NASA. They are currently slated to fly around the moon no earlier than September 2025, ahead of the scheduled lunar landing of Artemis 3 in 2026. 

When their mission comes to an end after their Orion spacecraft reenters Earth's atmosphere, the quartet will have to safely exit the capsule for recovery. NASA and the U.S. Navy already practiced these procedures in the open ocean near San Diego in August 2023, but with stand-in military personnel instead of the astronauts. Several of these recovery exercises are expected ahead of the launch, with at least one including the astronaut crew themselves.

Related: Astronauts won't walk on the moon until 2026 after NASA delays next 2 Artemis missions

While each mission was recently delayed by a year due to various technical matters, crew and ground preparation continues for the big day. There are simulations ongoing of flying the Orion spacecraft, riding the powerful Space Launch System rocket into space and of splashdown, alongside the U.S. Navy.

The Artemis 2 moon crew during splashdown practice at NASA's Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory in Houston, in a picture published in January 2024. From left: Victor Glover (NASA), Jeremy Hansen (Canadian Space Agency), Christina Koch (NASA) and Reid Wiseman (NASA). (Image credit: NASA/Josh Valcarcel)

"Both the crew and the recovery team practiced the choreography required to safely retrieve the crew after the Orion capsule returns to Earth," NASA officials wrote in a statement on X, formerly Twitter, on Jan. 30.

Artemis 2 moon commander Reid Wiseman, of NASA, practicing egressing from the Orion spacecraft during a splashdown simulation at NASA's Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory published in January 2024. (Image credit: NASA/ Josh Valcarcel)

The four crew members on Artemis 2 are NASA astronauts Reid Wiseman, Victor Glover (the first Black astronaut to leave low Earth orbit) and Christina Koch (the first woman), and Canadian Space Agency astronaut Jeremy Hansen (the first non-American). Hansen received his seat due to Canada's contribution to the NASA-led Artemis Accords: that's Canadarm3, a robotic arm that will service NASA's future moon Gateway space station

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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: