Artemis 2 moon astronauts discuss 21st-century 'moonshots' with President Biden

four people in blue flight jackets pose for a picture with a man in a suit in front of an american flag in an ornate office
U.S. President Joe Biden (center) met with the Artemis 2 moon crew on Dec. 14, 2023. The astronauts include, from left: NASA mission specialist Christina Koch, NASA pilot Victor Glover, NASA commander Reid Wiseman and Canadian Space Agency mission specialist Jeremy Hansen. (Image credit: Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)

The next astronaut crew to visit the moon talked space policy with U.S. President Joe Biden and U.S. Vice-President Kamala Harris, according to various posts on Tuesday (Dec. 19).

New details about the Dec. 14 White House meetings for the four Artemis 2 astronauts, slated for a round-the-moon mission in 2024, were released just ahead of the next National Space Council meeting later today (Dec. 20).

The gathering with Biden saw the crew "thank him for his leadership and discuss their upcoming flight test," according to a press release from NASA, alongside a newly released photo of the president with the four astronauts. (A NASA account on X, formerly Twitter, said last week that the crew also discussed "their training and science plans for the mission.")

Biden's X statement on Tuesday said it was an honor to have the crew in the Oval Office. "Here on Earth, our children will learn the names of these pioneers," the post stated. "And it's the Artemis generation who will carry us into the future we hope to build for the benefit of all."

Related: Artemis 2 astronauts meet President Biden to talk America's next trip to the moon

Artemis 2 includes four astronauts: NASA commander Reid Wiseman, NASA pilot Victor Glover (who will become the first person of color to leave low Earth orbit), NASA mission specialist Christina Koch (the first woman) and Canadian Space Agency mission specialist Jeremy Hansen (the first non-American).

Artemis 2 is fully funded for launch, and most of its hardware systems were tested on an uncrewed lunar venture known as Artemis 1 in 2022. Future Artemis program missions are still being negotiated. NASA has said it hopes to place Artemis 3 on the moon in 2025 or 2026, pending the readiness of key items such as the SpaceX Starship landing system and privately-made spacesuits. (The agency's Government Accountability Office recently suggested 2027 may be more realistic.)

Related: President Biden, VP Harris hail NASA Artemis 1 moon rocket launch and its 'limitless possibilities'

Artemis 2 NASA moon astronaut Christina Koch (foreground) and Canadian Space Agency astronaut Jeremy Hansen are assisted by Bill Owens, a spacesuit technician, during emergency exit training in a mock Orion spacecraft. The crew also includes NASA astronauts Reid Wiseman and Victor Glover, whose boots are visible at left. The training took place on Dec. 15, 2023 at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.   (Image credit: NASA/James Blair)

The Biden administration requested $27.2 billion for NASA in the White House's 2024 budget request in March, a 7% increase over 2023; that budget is still under review. For now, the agency is under a continuing resolution at 2023 spending levels until February. (NASA's share of the projected $6.8 trillion budget for the U.S. government is tiny in comparison, however.)

The office of Harris, the chair of the National Space Council, released video clips on X on Wednesday of the Vice-President's meeting with the crew.

"We've been lucky to travel the world the last few months, and to thank the folks that have been working on the rocket, working on this program," Wiseman told the Vice-President. "This leadership has done an awesome job of continuing the exploration legacy," he added.

"Hopefully, our moonshot is going to inspire people to do other moonshots," Koch told the Vice-President. "Whatever the challenges of our world are, we hope to demonstrate that when you come together — even internationally, especially — you really can take those on," added Koch. 

Artemis — as Koch alluded to—  is run under the NASA-led Artemis Accords, a U.S. policy for peaceful space exploration that now includes 33 nations. A subset of those partners, including Canada, are contributing hardware to the moon missions in exchange to seats.

"All that you guys are doing, it's the best of who we are as a nation," Harris told the astronauts. Her X account added that the crew's "leadership and ingenuity" is bringing the United States "one step closer to returning to the moon."

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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: