Will Jewish astronaut Jessica Meir be NASA's first woman on the moon?

No. 23 on The Jerusalem Post's Top 50 Most Influential Jews of 2022: Pioneering NASA astronaut Jessica Meir.

 Jewish Swedish-Israeli astronaut Jessica Meir aims to be the first woman to walk on the Moon, which is possible thanks to NASA's Artemis missions. (photo credit: SHAMIL ZHUMATOV / REUTERS)
Jewish Swedish-Israeli astronaut Jessica Meir aims to be the first woman to walk on the Moon, which is possible thanks to NASA's Artemis missions.
(photo credit: SHAMIL ZHUMATOV / REUTERS)

As humanity reaches for the stars with renewed vigor, Jessica Meir is one of the leading astronauts at the forefront of our cosmic ambitions.

Born in Maine to a Swedish mother and an Israeli-Jewish father, Meir has been enamored with space from a young age and has been involved with NASA for nearly two decades.

Since then, she has made waves as a successful and accomplished astronaut, including being part of the first-ever all-female spacewalk.

Throughout that time, Meir has made no secret about her closeness to Judaism and Israel, proudly putting her Jewishness and Israeli ties on full display on social media and bringing an Israeli flag, Star of David socks, a commemorative coin honoring late Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon and other related items with her into space.

Jessica Meir prepares to be submerged in NASA's 6.2 million gallon Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory for spacewalk training. (credit: NASA/JOSH VALCARCEL)Jessica Meir prepares to be submerged in NASA's 6.2 million gallon Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory for spacewalk training. (credit: NASA/JOSH VALCARCEL)

“Israel is a very important part of me,” she has said.

Two years ago, when she was on the International Space Station, Meir posted on Twitter a photo of Tel Aviv that she took from space, in which the usually bustling Israeli city is seen looking desolate amid the spread of the coronavirus.

“Gazing down at the city in which my father was raised, I take to heart one of his most uttered expressions, ‘This too shall pass’. Wise words to remember, in both good times and bad. Goodnight #TelAviv #Israel! #GoodnightFromSpace #TheJourney #EarthStrong,” she tweeted at the time.

Jessica Meir wants to be the first woman to land on the moon

But Meir has bigger dreams ahead of her: She wants to go to the moon. And that out-of-this-world goal may not be out of reach.

Interest in space travel has never been higher, with technological innovations making space more accessible than ever before. And while NASA is no stranger to the moon, having made several landings on the lunar surface in the 1960s and 1970s, there haven’t been any since.

NASA is gearing up to go back with its long-awaited Artemis missions, with the third mission, Artemis III, tentatively slated for 2025 and set to send an astronaut to the lunar surface. And specifically, NASA has already made it clear it wants a woman for the job, and Meir is among the candidates for the historic honor.

“I wanted to be an astronaut at five years old. I grew up watching the space shuttles launch,” she said in January 2022, as a special guest at the Israel Space Agency’s Israel Space Week, adding that returning to the moon, especially being the first woman, would be the culmination of a childhood dream.

But even if she isn’t chosen, Meir said she still hopes to play a role in this historic moment and is certain to have a place in the future of space exploration.