Nasa has announced 18 astronauts who will travel to the Moon under the agency’s Artemis programme.
They include individuals who have already travelled to the International Space Station, as well as new recruits who have never flown in space.
The group includes the next man and first woman who will walk on the lunar surface in 2024.
The cadre of nine women and nine men were announced by US Vice-President Mike Pence at an event in Florida.
He said: “My fellow Americans, I give you the heroes of the future who will carry us back to the Moon and beyond.”
Stephanie Wilson, who has flown into space three times aboard the space shuttle, Christina Koch, who holds the record for the longest continuous time in space for a woman, and Victor Glover, who recently launched to the ISS aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon, are among those who will fly to the Moon in coming years.
Speaking at the eighth National Space Council meeting at Kennedy Space Center, Nasa administrator Jim Bridenstine said: “This is the first cadre of our Artemis astronauts. I want to be clear, there’s going to be more.”
The US space agency plans to send a man and woman to the Moon’s south pole in 2024 for the first crewed landing since Apollo 17 in 1972.
But this will be followed by further flights by astronauts travelling in a spacecraft called Orion, which will be launched by a huge rocket called the Space Launch System (SLS).
Bridenstine has said that Nasa wants to establish a “sustainable” programme of lunar exploration, including the construction of a lunar base.
The astronauts announced on Wednesday are:
- Joseph Acaba
- Kayla Barron
- Raja Chari
- Matthew Dominick
- Victor Glover
- Warren Hoburg
- Jonny Kim
- Christina Koch
- Kjell Lindgren
- Nicole A Mann
- Anne McClain
- Jessica Meir
- Jasmin Moghbeli
- Kate Rubins
- Frank Rubio
- Scott Tingle
- Jessica Watkins
- Stephanie Wilson
Nine of the astronauts have already flown in space; eight are members of the most recent astronaut class – selected in 2017. One, Nicole Aunapu Mann, was selected in 2013, but has not yet flown on a mission.
Follow Paul on Twitter..