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Neil deGrasse Tyson Responds to Artemis 2 Announcement

Neil deGrasse Tyson weighs in on NASA's recent announcement of the launch date for the Artemis 2 mission in an interview with Discover.

By Monica Cull
Apr 25, 2023 1:00 PM
Artemis II Crew
(Credit: NASA/James Blair) Canadian Space Agency astronaut Jeremy Hansen (from left) and NASA astronauts Victor Glover, Reid Wiseman, and Christina Koch greet the crowd at Ellington Field near NASA’s Johnson Space Center on Monday, April 3, 2023.


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NASA has officially announced the crew for the Artemis 2 mission.

During our recent interview with renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, we asked him how excited he was to hear NASA's announcement.

"It's about damn time," says Dr. Tyson. "There's a limit to how excited I can get, given that we should have been doing this 45 years ago."

Artemis 2 Launch Date

The Artemis 2 launch date is expected to be either in late 2024 or early 2025. The last people on the moon were Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt, as part of the Apollo 17 mission in Dec. 1972.

Since then, humankind hasn't taken a lunar step. While other uncrewed missions have gone to and surveyed the moon, it won't be until Artemis 3 that humans once again land on its surface.

Artemis Crew

The Artemis crew consisting of Reid Wiseman, Victor Glover, Christina Koch and Jeremy Hansen will circle the moon. This will be the first time people return to the moon in over 50 years.

The Artemis missions will see the first woman and the first person of color to walk on the moon and help prepare the first astronauts to land on Mars.

Slow-Paced Space Race

There is some justification behind Tyson's response. During the Space Race of the late 1950s through the 1960s, space exploration seemed to move a little quicker. 

"When President Kennedy said, let's put a man on the moon and return him safely to earth, he said that in 1962," says Tyson. "We didn't yet have a rocket that was capable of holding humans that didn't blow up on the launch […]. In other words, he made that announcement before we had safe passage to space for humans. Seven years later, we're walking on the moon." 

Tyson went on to say that he was "still a little grumpy" that the Artemis missions were taking as long as they were when the Space Race of the 1960s proved that landing on the moon was already achievable. 

Read more: Marketing the Moon: How PR Made the Apollo Landing a Cultural Moment

Motivation Behind Artemis 2 Mission

Back then, the U.S. may have been more motivated to put someone on the moon because of the Cold War with the Soviet Union. Today, Tyson suggests, the motivation may come from the announcement that China wants to put taikonauts on the moon and eventually Mars. 

"Maybe that spooked us a little," says Tyson. "But not at the pace that we were spooked back in the 1960s."

However, Tyson jokes that at least the astronauts selected for the Artemis 2 mission are young enough so that if there is a delay in the mission, they will still be young enough to go to space when the mission does officially launch. 

"I'm happily frustrated that we're going back eventually," Tyson tells us.  

Read more: Artemis 1 Splashes Down Safely, Completes Historic Moon Mission

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