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Astronauts for the Artemis II mission begin training

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (NBC, KYMA/KECY) - T-minus 19 months and counting. That's how long before a NASA-led crew will make a return to the moon for the first time in 50 years.

For the past week, the crew has been practicing their return to Earth, right off the coast of San Diego.

Day and night for the past week off the coast of San Diego, astronauts and their Artemis II recovery team have been training for what happens after their Orion Space Capsule splashes down off California's coast.

Artemis II Commander Reid Wiseman dishing up high praise for San Diego's service members involved.

"Everyone is there for a mission purpose and assist and they're ready to throw their lives on any problem to get the mission accomplished," Wiseman spoke.

Ultimate goal: Humans on Mars

Wiseman is part of the four-person crew who'll be the first in 50 years to travel around the moon.

The explorers say while the Artemis Project is about sustainably living and working on the moon, with the ultimate goal is humans on Mars.

"It's about building on what we learn and exploring deeper and that means going to Mars and answering some of those fundamental questions we all have about ourselves. 'What does it mean to be human? Are we alone in the universe? How did we all get here?'"

Christina Koch, NASA Astronaut & Mission Specialist

After their ten day 685,000 mile journey around the moon, scheduled for next year, the Orion Capsule is forecast to splash down near Catalina Island and San Clemente.

Overcoming a problem

NASA provided a video of the Navy boats retrieving the astronauts from the test capsule out to sea during practice.

The goal is to get the astronauts from the capsule, then helicopter them to get a medical check on board an amphibious tranport ship, like the San Diego, within two hours. One of the practice runs showed a problem they overcame.

"For a while, we were under the rotor wash, waiting for a successful hookup, and we were watching all the potential things go wrong. But then, you watch sailors fall back on training and do things with precision," Wiseman shared.

"We're helping refine techniques and procedures [the] Navy will use to recover Orion Capsule when it splashes down in ocean," said U.S. Navy Capt. David Walton, Commanding Officer of the USS San Diego.

Living a childhood dream

This is the 11th capsule recovery test. NBC 7 was granted exclusive access in December of 2022 to see preparations to recover an unmanned Orion capsule.

When orion takes flight next year, Pomona native Victor Glover will be living out his childhood dream as pilot of the Orion Space Capsule, giving his fellow astronauts a space-eye-view he and some of his fellow astronauts have seen of America's finest city.

"California is incredibly beautiful...What I loved the most is coming up at night, and you can see the California border, San diego," Wiseman remarked.

"We have a mission to explore unknown in space and innovate for humanity and inspire the world through discovery," said U.S. Navy Capt. Victor Glover, pilot of the Orion Space Capsule.

Once the astronauts return from their moon mission, the Orion Space Capsule will be taken to Kennedy Space Center in Florida so data and parts of the capsule can be used for the next trip.

NASA is targeting September of next year for the Artemis II crewed mission around the moon.

Article Topic Follows: California News

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