LAKE ORION, Mich. — Two Michigan natives are helping NASA get ready for its next mission to the moon.
One of them talked with me about the project that the agency hopes to launch in just a couple years.
“I thought about being an astronaut at a very early age, probably when I was, you know, 10 years old. I dreamed about living and working in space and never lost sight of that goal,” said NASA Astronaut Drew Feustel.
He grew up in Lake Orion and currently serves as the Deputy Chief of the Astronaut Office for NASA, making sure the right people are being trained for the jobs that need to be done.
Out of all the people who’ve orbited our planet, he holds the record for being third in the world for the time spent spacewalking. He’s also second when it comes to U.S. astronauts.
“It’s overwhelming in many ways to view the earth from that vantage point, to understand our perspective in the universe,” said Feustel. “You see sort of the third dimension of space when you’re out there understanding that earth is floating beneath you and your spacecraft is orbiting above.”
One of the biggest projects he’s working on is our return to the moon. It’s known as the Artemis Program, which is named after the twin sister of Apollo.
The mission will land the first woman and next man on the moon by 2024, exploring more of the surface than ever before.
The Orion spacecraft is currently going through tests making sure all systems are a ‘go’ and that the astronauts are safe.
When it comes to landing on the moon there’s a lot to keep tabs on. For the past year and a half, Drew’s dealt with everything from spacewalks and suits to facilities and mobility systems – making sure that astronauts are prepared.
“What is it that we need to be successful on the surface of the moon and how do we make sure that the engineers design the equipment and the tools that we need to not only survive, but succeed in the mission tasks,” said Feustel.
It may seem like science fiction, but NASA is about to send people back to the moon to live and work.
It’s just like we’ve seen in the movies. The agency is working on space suits to walk around the surface, un-pressurized rovers like ATVs, and pressurized vehicles like a Winnebago, where astronauts can drive around the surface with their clothes, food, communication systems and resources to explore.
“We will live permanently on the surface of the moon,” said Feustel. “We’ve had an outpost in space for 20 years, and even before that the Russians had the MIR Space Station; these are all developments that are creating off-planet capabilities as humans.”
Feustel is helping out with all of it. So, to all the kids out there, even from small towns in Michigan, he’s proof that no dream is impossible to achieve.
“I followed the things that made a lot of sense to me, the things that I was good at, the things that I enjoyed,” he said, “and that allowed me to continue down the road to eventually get all my pieces of my life lined up to be eligible to become competitive in the astronaut program.”
Artemis 2 is the next mission to take off, likely in 2023.
There will be four people on a spacecraft that will circle the moon to test the systems for lunar orbit.
Artemis 3 will also send four astronauts to the moon, but only two of them will descend to the surface for about six days.
To read more about the program visit NASA’s page by clicking here.