NASA'S Artemis I launch is less than a day away and will see the world's most powerful rocket sent on a flyby of the Moon.
Nasa Astronaut Shannon Walker spoke to The Sun about how the mission is important for women everywhere and Nasa's fake female organ experiment.
When asked about the importance of Artemis I, Walker told The Sun: "I struggle to find the right words to describe the emotions I’m going to be feeling.
"This is the culmination of what I’ve wanted to do my entire life. I was four years old when we first walked on the Moon and ever since then I wanted to be an astronaut and I was lucky enough to be selected and now here next to the rocket that’s going to be taking people back to the Moon.
“I mean I’m getting goosebumps right now just thinking about it so it’s indescribable.”
Artemis I is the first stage in plans to send humans back to the moon, and is planned to be a 42-day tour around the Moon and back.
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It will test key components for future human space travel.
If all goes to plan, the Artemis I mission will lead the way for Artemis III, which will see the first woman and the first person of color stand on the Moon.
Walker, 57, has spent more than 330 days in space since first being selected as an astronaut in 2004.
Her first mission to the International Space Station was in June 2010, and she returned for another long stay in November 2020.
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With regards to the first woman on the Moon, Walker added: "I would love for it to be me but I don’t think it will. I think that it's good. It’s about time.
"I mean it’s about time we got back to the Moon but taking all of humanity with us is important.”
The launch will be historic for many reasons, including the fact it will lead to Artemis III, which should see the first woman and the first person of color stand on the lunar surface.
Before a woman can stand on the Moon, Nasa wants to do some more research.
The US space agency knows the female body has a bigger risk of negative impacts from space radiation.
This is why it's sending two mannequins Helga and Zohar containing fake female human organs on Artemis I's Orion capsule.
The two torsos are said to be made up of materials similar to the bones, soft tissues, and organs of a female adult human.
Over 10,000 sensors and radiation detectors will be tracking the effects of space on these materials as Helgar and Zohar travel around the Moon.
Astronaut Walker has stressed the importance of the fake female organ experiment but also highlighted how men and women are equal in space.
She told The Sun: "I have been in space twice. I’ve spent six months on the space station two times, so nearly a year in space.
"Really, in space, there is no difference between male and female.
"Yes, radiation may affect us differently and we are studying that.
"In fact on this Artemis rocket, we have two mannequins, well they call them torsos, specifically designed to mimic the female body to understand what the radiation environment is going to do.
"But, in general, other than radiation there is no difference between men and women. We’re trained the same, we do the same tasks."
Walker also explained the importance of diversity in space and how every individual can influence space travel.
She added: "It is important. I hope people don’t think we’re checking a box.
"We have worked very hard at Nasa to get people from all walks of life represented to do what we do.
"We need people. We need the diversity of thought and the diversity of people."
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