If everything goes according to plan, NASA’s Orion program will put the first woman on the moon four years from now.
Catherine Koerner is the first female program manager for Orion – a spacecraft that will send astronauts int deep space – that has been in operation for 13 years. She told Texas Standard that she expects the mission, planned for 2024, to have at least one woman on a mixed-gender crew pulled from NASA’s Astronaut Corps.
“That corps is what we select from when we choose our astronauts for any given mission. It’s very possible that we will have more than one woman returning to the moon at some point in the future. But as far as I’m aware, the plans are to have at least one woman and the next man on the surface of the moon by 2024,” Koerner said.
She says a lot has changed in the over 50 years since the Apollo 11 mission. The Orion program is an opportunity to explore new parts of the moon, and is the next step in getting humans to Mars.
“Going to the moon and then going to Mars – they’re very different. And so you can learn from one in order to … be successful on the other,” she said.
What you’ll hear in this segment:
– Why a mission to the moon can help us get to Mars
– What sparked Koerner’s interest in entering a field historically dominated by men
– How Texas plays a role in the Orion program