NASA Artemis Program: This is Jessica Watkins, the astronaut who can reach the Moon and even Mars


History can open its doors to Jessica Watkins, to definitively become the first woman to reach the Moon. Born in Gaithersburg, Maryland, in 1988, she is an astronaut from the POTgeologist and aquanaut is one of the main candidates in the Artemis Program.

Watkins recently spoke with AFP from the International Space Station, where it has been since April as part of the SpaceX Crew-4 mission and ISS Expedition 67.

“Don’t be afraid to dream big. You never know when your dreams will come true,” says the astronaut.

NASA’s Artemis Program, “an important step” for the world

NASA’s Artemis Program seeks to land not only the first woman, but the first African-American person on the Moon. Watkins embodies the perfect astronaut for the mission, who will break the barrier in which only white men have been in charge of reaching the satellite.

“It will be an important step for the agency, for the country and even for the world,” Watkins said. “Representation is important. It’s hard to become what you don’t see.”

“I am very grateful to those who preceded me, women and black astronauts that paved the way for me to be here today. It was important to me.”

For the launch of the Artemis I Mission is scheduled for August 29, That will take three mannequins and other elements to the orbit of the Moon, in order to assess the incidence of radiation both on people and on the new suits.

In the Artemis II Mission, the same route will be made, but already with astronauts. And in the third part the moon landing will take place with the first woman and the next man.

The return to the Earth satellite is expected serve to create an intermediary base with Mars. Would Watkins be that pioneer on the red planet?

Jessica Watkins’ route

A geologist graduated from Stanford University, Watkins was also part of the United States Rugby team. Worked at the Ames Research Center to support the Mars Phoenix lander and Mars prototype drill tests.

In addition, she was the Chief Geologist for NASA Spaceward Bound Crew 86.

The astronaut may become the first woman to land on the Moon, as part of NASA's Artemis Program.

NASA selected Watkins to join Astronaut Group 22 in 2017, and three years later he joined Team Artemis. In April 2022 she traveled to the International Space Station as a member of the SpaceX Crew-4 mission.

For Watkins, being an astronaut represents “that sense of exploration and desire to continue pushing the limits of what humans are capable of doing”.

Next destination, the Moon? The future will tell.

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