A Canadian astronaut is expected to be named for the first time in history to a crewed lunar mission – an historic moment that a University of Guelph instructor says will “establish a Canadian footprint on the moon.”

Orbax stands in front of the moon with his hands outstretched, as if he were holding a ball, and looks right into the camera.

Orbax, a science communicator in the Department of Physics in U of G’s College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, says the Artemis II mission will be a significant boost to the Canadian Space Agency, and “an inspiration to young Canadians to see our first astronaut to orbit the moon, that they too may dream one day of stepping foot on lunar soil.”

Artemis II will be the first crewed mission to orbit the moon in more than 50 years.

NASA and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) will jointly announce the crew of Artemis II live on Monday, April 3.

“This will be the first Canadian to orbit the moon, which means we’ll be the second country in history to send a person that far from Earth,” Orbax said.

The Artemis missions are also expected to include the first woman and the first person of colour to walk on the moon. The plan is to send a team of four astronauts in a lunar fly-by. It will be the first time any human has come close to the moon since the Apollo 17 lunar mission in December 1972.

Artemis II is the follow up mission to Artemis I, which will see the first crewed mission of the successfully tested Orion spacecraft that was part of Artemis I.

The Artemis missions are heading to the moon to create a lunar-orbiting science station called the Gateway to serve as a relay station for a lunar science base. Canada built one of the instruments on Gateway, the Canadarm3 and will produce some of the first lunar rovers to aid in the mission.

“For the first time ever, we are heading towards establishing a Canadian footprint on the moon,” Orbax said.

A lecturer in the Department of Physics, Orbax is the co-founder of Royal City Science, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to STEM education, and one-half of Orbax and Pepper Do Science, an educational science-based platform.

He is available for interviews.