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NASA, Pence name 18 astronauts who will train for lunar missions

By Paul Brinkmann & Don Jacobson
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NASA, Pence name 18 astronauts who will train for lunar missions
NASA astronauts Christina Koch (R) and Jessica Meir, shown in space together in 2019, are among the astronauts who will train for NASA's Artemis lunar missions. Photo courtesy of NASA | License Photo

Dec. 9 (UPI) -- NASA on Wednesday named the 18 astronauts who will train to fly to the moon, the word coming at an event in Florida whose guests included Vice President Mike Pence.

The Artemis astronaut corps willincludes nine women and nine men.

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The women are Kayla Barron, Christina Koch, Nicole Mann, Anne McClain, Jessica Meir, Jasmin Moghbeli, Kate Rubins, Jessica Watkins and Stephanie Wilson.

The men are Raja Chari, Matthew Dominick, Victor Glover, Woody Hoburg, Jonny Kim, Joe Acaba, Kjell Lindgren, Frank Rubio and Scott Tingle.

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Rubins and Glover are currently working on the International Space Station, along with five other astronauts and cosmonauts.

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"All of those that were just named that are part of the Artemis generation," Pence said at a meeting of the National Space Council at Kennedy Space Center.

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"It really is amazing to think that the next man and the first woman on the moon are among the names that we just read ,and they may be standing in the room with us right now," Pence said.

No human has been on the lunar surface since Apollo 17 at the end of 1972.

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Pence's visit marked the last time he will chair the National Space Council, which President Donald Trump re-established in 2017.

Pence also visited the U.S. Space Force's 45th Space Wing, where he announced that Patrick Air Force Base and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station are now officially renamed to use the Space Force name instead. They are the first military bases to be renamed for the Space Force.

Pence has been Trump's point person for the space program. The administration set the 2024 goal for returning astronauts to the moon, while NASA named the new lunar program Artemis after the Greek goddess of hunting and the moon.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine told Congress in September that NASA needs $7 billion in funding in the current fiscal year to meet the deadline. The agency's fiscal 2021 budget is still under review.

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NASA's women astronauts -- at least one likely to walk on moon

Moghbeli poses for a portrait in the Systems Engineering Simulator for the International Space Station and advanced spaceflight programs at the Johnson Space Center on July 9, 2019. She will train for the moon mission. Photo by Bill Ingalls/NASA

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