NASA opens up Artemis moon missions to all astronauts

Artist's impression of two spacesuited astronauts working on the moon.
astronauts in spacesuits holding moon rocks (Image credit: NASA)

The Artemis Team is no more.

NASA will consider every agency astronaut for Artemis moon missions when it makes seat assignments, the agency announced Friday (Aug. 8). This initiative rolls back a 2020 announcement that selected 18 astronauts for these missions, which NASA then called "the Artemis Team."

"The way I look at it, any one of our 42 active astronauts is eligible for an Artemis mission," NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman, who is head of the astronaut office at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, told reporters during a livestreamed briefing Friday. "We want to assemble the right team for this mission."

Related: NASA's Artemis 1 moon mission: Live updates
More: NASA's Artemis 1 moon mission explained in photos 

The agency released the news as the Artemis 1 mission prepares to return to the pad Aug. 18 for a launch to the moon no earlier than Aug. 29. That mission will test the Space Launch System (SLS) megarocket and Orion spacecraft to get ready for future crewed missions to the lunar surface, if all goes to plan.

Wiseman pledged the Artemis 2 assignments will be announced shortly, saying astronauts will be "beating down the door" to get a spot for all future moon missions. "We hope that will be later this year," he said of Artemis 2 assignments; that mission is scheduled to launch no earlier than 2024.

The 18 members of NASA's Artemis Team, from top left to bottom right: Joe Acaba, Kayla Barron, Raja Chari, Matthew Dominick, Victor Glover, Woody Hoburg, Jonny Kim, Christina Koch, Kjell Lindgren, Nicole Mann, Anne McClain, Jessica Meir, Jasmin Moghbeli, Kate Rubins, Frank Rubio, Scott Tingle, Jessica Watkins and Stephanie Wilson.  (Image credit: NASA via collectSPACE.com)

The roster of eligible astronauts appears to have expanded even further in recent months, as NASA modified lifetime radiation exposure requirements to give equal assessments regardless of age or gender. 

In the past, women astronauts said they faced discrimination under the old requirements, which allowed men to accrue more radiation — and in turn more time in space. NASA solicited feedback from the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine recently for newer standards, which the academies endorsed in a 2021 report (opens in new tab).

Wiseman, calling the earlier radiation standards "draconian," said everything is now "equalized," adding, "It does not matter whether you're a man, whether you're a woman. It is the exact same."

Related: How NASA's Artemis moon landing with astronauts works

All genders will be eligible for Artemis along with all ages, with the current astronaut corps ranging between their 20s and their 60s. "As long as you are healthy, we’re going to load you on a rocket and shoot you off the planet," Wiseman said.

Artemis 2 will include a Canadian on board as an exchange for the country's commitment to build a robotic arm called Canadarm3 to service the Gateway space station. (Canada has also not yet named its astronaut, but will likely do so around the same time as NASA; the nation's space agency has four active astronauts (opens in new tab).)

So far, no other international astronaut slot is confirmed for that first moon mission, which will see a crew in lunar orbit ahead of the Artemis 3 crewed landing. European and Japanese astronauts may be contenders for either Artemis 2 and Artemis 3, given their nations' large contributions to the program.

Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) and on Facebook (opens in new tab).

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at: community@space.com.

Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell, Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022. She was contributing writer for Space.com (opens in new tab) for 10 years before that, since 2012. Elizabeth's reporting includes an exclusive with Office of the Vice-President of the United States, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, 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 (soon) a Bachelor of History from Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science since 2015. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: https://qoto.org/@howellspace