The program sagebrush, with which the POT put back manned missions on the lunar surface, and eventually on Marsshowing humanity things never seen before as declared by the new chief of astronauts of the US space agency, Jose Acaba.

«This is a great moment in history, with the Artemis program let’s do things that have never been done«said Acabá, who with his appointment announced on February 2 became the first person of Hispanic origin to lead the Astronaut Office at the Johnson Space Center in Houston (Texas).

As the person in charge of managing the resources and those of the astronauts, who currently number about 40, Acabá will supervise the selection of crews for upcoming Artemis missionsafter the first of them returned to Earth last December after a 25-day mission in which it orbited the Moon.

The Artemis 1 journey without astronauts, but Artemis 2, scheduled for the year 2024, will be the first manned mission of this program and, as Acabá said, NASA hopes to be able to announce the three American members (the fourth crew member will be from the Canadian space agency) in the course of the next two months.

«Those we choose, we know they will do a great job, not only in the mission but representing the astronauts and the United States,» said Acabá, a geologist by profession who has accumulated 306 days in space since he was selected by NASA in 2004.

facing the Artemis 3, the first astronauts will put on the lunar surface Since the end of the Apollo program in 1972, the US space agency has sought to build a diverse crew that includes the first woman and the first person of color that they reach the Moon.

Inspiration, a part of the mission

The veteran astronaut, born in California in 1967 and of Puerto Rican origin, is aware of the fascination aroused by space flights, which lead students to «dream big», and, in this sense, he is convinced that the glare will be greater with the next Artemis missions, which «will be bigger than anything we’ve seen before.»

«Personally, my interest in space began watching the Apollo missions with my grandparents, and I hope that when young students see the Artemis missions their imaginations will spark their imagination,» Acabá confessed, adding that «inspiration is another big part of a mission».

The current effervescence in the aerospace industry has undoubtedly been nourished by flights operated by private companies, with SpaceX as the leading actor thanks to the contract it has with NASA to send missions to the International Space Station (ISS), a sector that is expected to increase with the entry of new firms such as Boeing.

Help in this luck «commercialization of space» It is one of NASA’s responsibilities, like Acabá, and although he now said there are only a few selected by the space agency for joint projects, «the goal is to make space accessible to all.»

«It will happen, the space will be more available in the future,» he said.

Education and teamwork

The astronaut, who in his new position at the US space agency replaces Drew Feustel, who has been acting head of the office since reid wiseman he left the post at the end of 2022, no doubt stating that being in space has been one of the greatest experiences of his life.

During his time as an astronaut, Acabá carried out three space missions, the first of which, STS-119, was in 2009 and aboard the shuttle Discoverywith which he delivered the fourth pair of solar panel wings to the ISS and then, once in the orbital laboratory, performed two spacewalks.

His next two missions, in 2012 and 2018, were as a flight engineer aboard Russian Soyuz spacecraft for Space Station Expeditions 31/32 and 53/54.

Since then, the UC Santa Barbara geology graduate has supported the astronaut office in various roles, including director of operations in Russia and head of the Vehicle Integration Test Office.

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He points out that an important requirement to be an astronaut is to have a bachelor’s degree in higher education, which can be of a wide spectrum.

«We are looking for people who are capable of working as a team,» he said.