Valentina Tereschova became the first woman to go into space on 16 June 1963 and Sally Ride was the first American woman to go into space on 18 June 1983.
Since November 2000 there have always been humans aboard the International Space Station (ISS) falling toward and, thanks to its orbital velocity, missing Earth. The durability of the ISS has been built on extended co-operation between people of different nations – our interconnectedness - to achieve something reflecting the best of our humanity. Now we are preparing a return to the Moon.
“Spaceflight is not for the impatient. It’s dangerous, it’s very complicated. We have a group of people that are working together, not only in the United States, but really in the international community that are going to come together to make this successful.” Artemis astronaut Nicole Mann.
On the 10 December 2020 NASA announced the 18 astronauts, including nine women, who will prepare for the next crewed Artemis lunar missions as a gateway on our journey to other planets and stars. After the pain of the Covid pandemic and political divisions across the USA and the world what an excellent opportunity to unite people, restore their souls and secure the future by rising to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow passing along a better world to our children.
There will be a time then when the first woman will escape Earth’s gravitational pull to achieve a TransLunar Insertion (TLI). The manned Apollo 8 mission did this on 21 December 1968 using Katherine Johnson and others computations as well as taking the iconic images of Earthrise and, as one letter writer put it, saved 1968 (poignantly covered in episode 6 of Dr Kevin Fong’s fantastic BBC podcast series 13 Minutes To The Moon – particularly c22 min in). We look forward to some amazing Earthrise Redux pictures from the Artemis II mission!
“If I can be a part of these missions in any capacity, it will truly be a dream come true,” Artemis astronaut Jessica Meir.
Will this achievement of #1XXTLI mark the point where humanity truly becomes a spacefaring species? Irrespective, it would be great to pause and properly commemorate the human cooperation leading to the first woman achieving a sky-high ambition as our species stretches outward from our home, our Earth, our little pale blue dot into the achingly beautiful cosmos. And to paraphrase Vice President Harris’s inauguration speech - the first woman to reach TLI will not be the last but the first of many! Onward to the Moon … and Mars (that little red orb in the letter “G” of the design)
So President Biden, Vice President Harris, Congress, people - lets help NASA make it so!?
(President Biden now has a piece of moon rock in his oval office)
A Closing Comment
The Earth will continue for many millenia but the twenty firstt century is shaping up as a pivotal one for humanity. It is interesting to consider then the impact that women are increasingly having as a force for good to overcome some of the challenges we face outlined, for instance, in Julian Cribb’s “Surviving The 21st Century: Humanity’s Great Challenges and How We Can Overcome Them” (podcast & transcript here) and Professor Mariana Mazzucato’s work (eg “Mission Economy: A Moonshot Guide to Changing Capitalism” ). As just one example consider ex-European Trade Commissioner Dr Cecilia Malmstrom’s possible appointment as the OECD’s first female Secretary General spearheading a new globally focused carbon border adjustment mechanism with the World Trade Organization to help our atmospheric commons recover. Only creative coalitions can achieve truly global solutions to overcome our climate change and other global problems.
In February 2021 a Wired article outlined NASA’s need for an extra USD35bn over the next 4 years to land a person on the Moon by 2024. Notwithstanding the tiny percentage of the total federal budget this equates to Congress and NASA’s CFO (Jeff DeWit) might take a leaf from the US Youth Poet Laureate (Amanda Gorman) and lift their gazes not to what stands between them and the goal but the goal that stands before all humanity as a space faring species and at least get the first woman into a translunar orbit before 2024. Supporting the program would also be a concrete way for President Biden and (the first US female) Vice President Harris to actively supporting women’s and girl’s aspirations and help deliver on the sentiments expressed in the Inauguration Day speeches to unify the nation by pursuing a noble goal that can re-energize America in a real and productive way, building upon the infrastructure of spirit to help feed America’s, and indeed the worlds, soul.
NASA has produced You Are Going about the Artemis mission for younger aspiring astronauts
Some related podcasts
NASA’s Houston We Have a Podcast
Mike Sarafin, Artemis mission manager provides an overview of the Artemis I & Artemis II missions. (particularly around c21min in)
Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, launch director for the Exploration Ground System program at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, shares the highlights of preparing for the first Artemis mission and the first launch and test flight of the Space Launch System with the Orion spacecraft.
NASA Mission Control Center experts discuss the work behind 20 years of continuous human presence on the ISS
“Moonshot” - NASA is going back to the Moon
Listen to the intersection of art, tech and the Moon with artist Moon Ribas of the Cyborg Foundation
Read Linda Billings article Should Humans Colonise Other Planets? No and listen to the BBC’s The Documentary – Back Down To Earth 6 Dec 2020 to engage with a contrarian view and inform you own view as well as a reality check on Martian living (about 15 min in) from the Planetary Society’s Bill Nye aka The Science Guy.