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Maine astronaut could be the first woman to walk on the moon

NASA selected 18 astronauts for its 2024 moon mission

US astronaut Jessica Meir.
US astronaut Jessica Meir.Andrey Shelepin/Associated Press

A Maine astronaut may be the first woman to walk on the moon as NASA plans their next space mission, the space agency announced Wednesday.

Jessica Meir of Caribou is one of 18 astronauts, nine women and nine men from diverse backgrounds, to join the Artemis Team, according to NASA.

NASA will announce flight assignments for astronauts later, but the agency’s modern lunar exploration program plans to land the first woman and next man on the Moon in 2024.

Meir is one of the nine women tasked with establishing a sustainable human lunar presence by the end of the decade, according to NASA. She has been an active astronaut since 2013, spending 205 days in space and performing three spacewalks.


Meir, a graduate of Brown University and Harvard Medical School, last year made history when she joined colleague Christina Koch to complete the first all-female space walk. She was named to Time Magazine’s list of the world’s most influential people for 2020.

Vice President Mike Pence introduced the team members Wednesday during the eighth National Space Council meeting at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

During the live-streamed NASA conference, Meir said she wanted to be an astronaut since she was five years old, with people always associating her with space and calling her “space girl.”

“I think I’ve always looked up at the moon and thought about what it would be like to be there,” she said during the conference. “I don’t look at this as my own accomplishment or something just for me - this is our mission, everybody’s mission.”

The astronaut’s findings will inform NASA’s next major space exploration - sending astronauts to Mars, according to the Artemis Team’s official website.

Sofia Saric can be reached at sofia.saric@globe.com Follow her on Twitter @sofia_saric.