WASHINGTON — The four astronauts assigned to fly around the moon for the first time in 50 years met with President Joe Biden on Thursday at the White House, where he showed off an moon rock on display in the Oval Office that was collected in the Apollo era.
The Artemis II crew — three Americans and one Canadian — said the president was making good on a promise to host them at the White House after they were named to the mission earlier this year. They also met with Vice President Kamala Harris.
“It's been really nice to shake their hands and tell them thank you for their leadership and making it possible for us to have this amazing journey,” said pilot Victor Glover.
The four astronauts will be the first to fly NASA's Orion capsule, launching atop a Space Launch System rocket from Kennedy Space Center no earlier than late 2024. They will not land or even go into lunar orbit, but rather fly around the moon and head straight back to Earth, a prelude to a lunar landing by two others planned for a year later.
“As the crew, we don't even think about the date,” said commander Reid Wiseman. “We will go when NASA and the vehicle are ready to fly.”
In the meantime, the crew is preparing. They use simulators and work with Mission Control on how to get up and back safely, including how to get out when they return to Earth. They have a dress rehearsal in February where they'll practice “bobbing around” in a…