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NASA’s initiative to put a woman on the Moon is named Artemis, after Apollo’s twin sister

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Oh my goddess

Buzz Aldrin on the surface of the Moon. Only men have ever landed on the lunar surface, but NASA wants to change that.
Image: NASA

NASA’s ambitious plan to put the first woman on the surface of the Moon by 2024 is now named Artemis, after the Greek goddess of the Moon and twin sister of the god Apollo. NASA’s Apollo program famously put the first men on the surface of the Moon in the 1960 and 70s, but now that NASA is focusing on putting a woman on the Moon, the goddess gets the top billing.

“I think it is very beautiful that 50 years after Apollo, the Artemis program will carry the next man and the first woman to the Moon,” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine. “I have a daughter who is 11 years old, and I want her to be able to see herself in the same role as the next women that go to the Moon.”

Bridenstine announced the new name on Monday, May 13th, after NASA released its updated budget request for getting to the Moon by 2024. In March, Vice President Mike Pence called on NASA to accelerate its lunar initiatives and put the first people on the surface of the Moon within the next five years. Since that challenge, Bridenstine has been adamant that the first people to return to the Moon will be a man and a woman.

“The first woman will be an American on the surface of the moon in five years,” Bridenstine said in April during the Space Symposium conference in Colorado Springs. “That is an extreme declaration and a charge that we are going to live up to at NASA.”

NASA’s Artemis program is still very much in its infancy. While NASA has been developing a rocket and crew capsule to take people into deep space, those vehicles still have yet to actually carry any astronauts. Additionally, NASA still needs to develop a lot of new hardware, including new lunar landers, in order for this project to be a success. Plus, the space agency still needs to get Congress’s approval for the program’s budget.

So while, the program does have a cool name, there’s still a long way to go before Artemis can actually deliver.