LifestyleNew NASA Astronaut Describes Thrilling Splashdown Training for Artemis 2 Moon Mission

New NASA Astronaut Describes Thrilling Splashdown Training for Artemis 2 Moon Mission

Exploring the Sea: Astronaut Training in Open Water

A few weeks before completing her astronaut training, NASA’s Christina “Chris” Birch found herself in the vast expanse of open water.

As a newly qualified NASA astronaut, Birch was involved in testing the Orion spacecraft that will facilitate the missions of Artemis program astronauts as they journey to the moon. In February, she was part of a large team conducting exercises for Artemis 2, a mission that will orbit the moon with four other astronauts in September 2025 and then return to Earth by splashing down in the Pacific Ocean.

Off the shore of San Diego, amidst the rough waves of the Pacific Ocean, Birch participated in entry and exit exercises with the Orion spacecraft to assess the post-splashdown recovery procedures. Reflecting on the experience in an exclusive interview with after her graduation on March 5, Birch described it as truly remarkable.

“It was an invaluable learning experience for me to be in the field,” Birch shared. A former professional cyclist with the U.S. national team, Birch emphasized her enjoyment of collaborative work, stating that she thrives in immersive environments where teamwork is key.

Together with Canadian astronaut Jenni Gibbons, Birch worked alongside the Artemis 2 crew in an extensive recovery exercise in the Pacific Ocean last month. The Artemis 2 team comprises NASA commander Reid Wiseman, NASA pilot Victor Glover (set to be the first Black individual to venture beyond low Earth orbit), NASA mission specialist Christina Koch (poised to be the first woman to surpass low Earth orbit), and Canadian Space Agency (CSA) mission specialist Jeremy Hansen (the first non-American to journey to the moon, with Gibbons as his backup).

Embracing the challenges and opportunities presented by training in open water, Birch and her colleagues continue to prepare diligently for the historic Artemis 2 mission.Exploring Astronaut Training Exercises in Challenging Environments

In a recent training exercise conducted in February 2024, NASA astronaut Christina Birch engaged in Orion spacecraft entry drills off the coast of San Diego. The exercise, which took place while Birch was still an astronaut candidate, simulated recovery operations in rough ocean waters.

The recovery procedures involved a coordinated effort between helicopters, the USS San Diego vessel, and personnel from NASA and the Department of Defense. This training exercise allowed Birch to gain insight into the challenges that the crew may face during future missions. By participating in these exercises, she was able to better understand and support upcoming space missions.

Benefits of Realistic Training Scenarios

Engaging in training exercises in real-world environments provides astronauts with valuable experience and preparation for space missions. By practicing spacecraft entry and recovery operations in the Pacific Ocean, Birch was able to simulate the conditions that astronauts may encounter during actual missions. This hands-on training approach allows astronauts to develop the skills and mindset necessary to handle challenging scenarios in space.

Collaborative Efforts in Astronaut Training

The success of astronaut training exercises relies on the collaboration between various organizations, including NASA, the U.S. Navy, and the Department of Defense. During the recovery drills, personnel worked together to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the operations. By leveraging the expertise and resources of different organizations, astronauts like Birch can receive comprehensive training that prepares them for the demands of space exploration.

Looking Ahead to Future Missions

As NASA continues to plan for future space missions, the insights gained from training exercises play a crucial role in mission preparedness. By participating in recovery drills like the one in San Diego, astronauts can refine their skills and adapt to challenging environments. This rigorous training approach ensures that astronauts are well-equipped to navigate the complexities of space travel and exploration.

In conclusion, the recent training exercise involving astronaut Christina Birch showcases the dedication and expertise required for space missions. By engaging in realistic scenarios and collaborative efforts, astronauts can enhance their skills and readiness for the challenges of space exploration. As NASA looks towards future missions, these training exercises will be instrumental in preparing astronauts for the rigors of space travel.NASA Astronaut Christina Birch’s Contribution to Orion Spacecraft Development

As a recent graduate, Christina Birch has been chosen for a prestigious assignment at NASA. She will be playing a crucial role in the ongoing development of the Orion spacecraft, a key component of NASA’s Artemis program.

Training for Extravehicular Activities

One of the essential skills that astronauts like Christina Birch must possess is the ability to perform extravehicular activities, commonly known as spacewalks. To prepare for these challenging tasks, Christina has been undergoing rigorous training at NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory in Houston.

The Importance of Spacewalk Training

Spacewalks are critical for various activities in space, including repairing equipment, conducting experiments, and even building structures. Without proper training, astronauts would not be able to perform these tasks effectively, putting both themselves and the mission at risk.

Christina Birch’s Future Missions

In addition to her involvement in Orion spacecraft development, Christina Birch is also preparing for future missions to the Moon as part of NASA’s Artemis program. These missions will provide invaluable opportunities for scientific research and exploration, furthering our understanding of the cosmos.


Christina Birch’s journey from graduation to becoming a NASA astronaut highlights the importance of dedication, perseverance, and hard work in achieving one’s dreams. Her contributions to space exploration, particularly in the development of the Orion spacecraft, demonstrate the crucial role that astronauts play in pushing the boundaries of human knowledge and exploration.


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