Ashley Strickland, CNN, April 9, 2021
The Artemis program will land the first person of color on the moon, according to NASA. The new goal for the program, which seeks to land the first woman and the next man on at the lunar south pole by 2024, comes from the Biden-Harris administration.
The administration submitted US President Joe Biden’s priorities for 2022 discretionary spending to Congress Friday. It calls for an increase of more than 6% from the previous year, according to NASA.
Biden’s fiscal year 2022 request would keep NASA on track to return humans to the moon while aligning with the President’s “commitment to pursue a comprehensive approach to advancing equity for all,” according to a NASA release.
While it’s unknown if a person of color will be among the two first astronauts to return to the moon since the Apollo program in 1972, “these are historic moments in advancing equity for all of humankind,” said Bhavya Lal, acting NASA chief of staff.
“Women and people of color represent a significant contributing portion of all facets of NASA’s workforce, and the last two astronaut classes selected have included the highest percentage of women in history,” Lal said. “Fifty percent of the 2013 National class was female and 45% of the 2017 class. And today, African American, Asian Pacific Islander, Hispanic and multiracial astronauts are about a quarter of NASA’s active astronaut corps.”
Lal said the announcement is personally very meaningful to her. She came to the United States at 18 years old, carrying two suitcases full of books and never imagining she would work at NASA in the future.
“If you can see it, you can believe it,” Lal said. “So much of what NASA does is inspire the next generation, but in order to be successful in that inspiration, we have to continue to be leaders when it comes to diversity and equity.”