A submarine officer and a handful of military pilots are in the running to be the first woman to walk on the moon

NASA/Bill IngallsNASA astronaut candidate Kayla Barron is seen after donning her spacesuit, Friday, July 12, 2019 at NASA’s Johnson Space Centre in Houston, Texas
  • NASA announced Wednesday that 18 astronauts have been selected to join the Artemis Team, which will support the Artemis lunar exploration program.
  • Among the individuals selected are nine women, four of whom are US military personnel.
  • One woman is a former Navy submarine warfare officer, while the other three women are former Army and Marine Corps pilots.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced Wednesday the names 18 astronauts who could return to the moon as part of the Artemis program, a new lunar exploration program.

“I give you the heroes who will carry us to the Moon and beyond — the Artemis Generation,” Vice President Mike Pence said Wednesday. “It is amazing to think that the next man and first woman on the Moon are among the names that we just read.”

The Artemis program is a lunar exploration effort aimed at not only sending people back to the moon by 2024 but also establishing a sustainable presence on the moon by the end of this decade.

Half of the 18 people selected are women. Among the women in the running for the historic achievement of being the first woman to walk on the moon are four US military service members: Kayla Barron, Nicole Mann, Anne McClain, and Jasmin Moghbeli.

Lt. Cmdr. Kayla Barron:

2017 NASA astronaut candidate Kayla BarronNASA/Robert Markowitz2017 NASA astronaut candidate Kayla Barron

Born in Idaho, Barron is a US Navy lieutenant commander. She graduated from the US Naval Academy with a bachelor’s degree in systems engineering. She also has a master’s degree in nuclear engineering from the University of Cambridge.

Barronwas part of the first class of women to commission as submarine officers, according to her official NASA biography. As a Submarine Warfare Officer, she completed three strategic deterrent patrols aboard the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Maine.

In 2017, NASA selected Barron, who was working at the Naval Academy at the time, to join Astronaut Candidate Class.

Lt. Col. Nicole Mann:

NASA astronaut Nicole Aunapu MannNASA/Bill IngallsNASA astronaut Nicole Aunapu Mann

Mann, a California native and Marine Corps lieutenant colonel, has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the US Naval Academy and a master’s degree in the same field from Stanford University.

Having earned her wings of gold as a naval aviator, she deployed as a combat pilot aboard the USS Enterprise, flying a total of 47 combat missions in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

She later served as a test pilot flying F/A-18 Hornets and Super Hornets. In her career, she has racked up over 2,500 flight hours in 25 different aircraft types.

Mann, who joined NASA in 2013, has most recently been training for the crewed flight test of Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft, according to her official NASA biography.

Lt. Col. Anne McClain:

NASA astronaut Anne McClainNASANASA astronaut Anne McClain

McClain, a US Army lieutenant colonel, was born in Washington. She has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical/aeronautical engineering from the US Military Academy at West Point and a master’s degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Bath. She also has a master’s degree in international relations from the University of Bristol.

She earned her wings as an OH-58D Kiowa Warrior scout/attack helicopter pilot, and she flew more than 800 combat hours and over 200 combat missions in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. As a senior Army aviator, McClain has over 2,000 flight hours in 20 different aircraft.

According to her official biography, she joined NASA in 2013. Most recently, she served as a flight engineer on the International Space Station.

Maj. Jasmin Moghbeli:

2017 Astronaut Candidate Jasmin MoghbeliNASA/Robert Markowitz2017 Astronaut Candidate Jasmin Moghbeli

Born in Germany, Moghbeli is a major in the US Marine Corps. She holds a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering with information technology from the Massachussetts Institute of Technology. She also has a master’s degree in aerospace engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School.

Moghbeli is a graduate of the US Navy Test Pilot School. When she was selected to join NASA in 2017, she was testing H-1 helicopters for the Marine Corps in Arizona.

While details are limited in Moghbeli’s official biography, NASA says that she has flown 150 combat missions and has accumulated over 1,600 flight hours.

Other outstanding women who could be the first woman to walk on the moon include Christina Hammock Koch, Jessica Meir, Kate Rubins, Jessica Watkins, and Stephanie Wilson.

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