By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Three Southland residents were chosen to be among the 18 astronauts of NASA’s Artemis program, which is the space agency’s effort to land the first woman and next man on the moon by 2024.

Vice President Mike Pence introduced the team on Wednesday during the eighth National Space Council meeting at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

“I give you the heroes who will carry us to the Moon and beyond — the Artemis generation,” Pence said. “It is amazing to think that the next man and first woman on the Moon are among the names … The Artemis team astronauts are the future of American space exploration — and that future is bright.”

The Artemis team members from Southern California are:

— Joseph Acaba, of Anaheim, who became a NASA astronaut in 2004. He has spent 306 days in space and performed three spacewalks. He has a bachelor’s degree in geology, as well as master’s degrees in geology and education. Before his career with NASA, Acaba taught high school science and middle school math and science.

— Victor Glover, of Pomona, who began his career as an astronaut in 2013. The U.S. Navy Commander earned a bachelor’s degree in general engineering and master’s degrees in flight test engineering, systems engineering, and military operational art and science. He piloted the Crew-1 Dragon Resilience and is currently serving as an Expedition 64 flight engineer aboard the International Space Station.

— Jonny Kim, of Los Angeles, who came to NASA in 2017. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy following high school. He became a Navy SEAL before earning his commission and going back to school to pursue a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, followed by a doctor of medicine.

The agency said that its modern lunar exploration will include establishing a sustainable human presence on the moon by the end of the decade. Officials said they will use what they learn on the moon to hopefully send astronauts to Mars.

“We are incredibly grateful for the president and vice president’s support of the Artemis program, as well as the bipartisan support for all of NASA’s science, aeronautics research, technology development, and human exploration goals,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said. “As a result, we’re excited to share this next step in exploration — naming the Artemis team of astronauts who will lead the way, which includes the first woman and next man to walk on the lunar surface.”

The Artemis missions are set to begin next year. In the meantime, the astronauts will help prepare by developing human landing systems, assisting in the development of training, defining hardware requirements, and consulting on technical development. They also will engage the public and industry on the Artemis program and NASA’s exploration plans.

“There is so much exciting work ahead of us as we return to the Moon, and it will take the entire astronaut corps to make that happen,” Chief Astronaut Pat Forrester said. “Walking on the lunar surface would be a dream come true for any one of us, and any part we can play in making that happen is an honor. I am proud of this particular group of men and women and know that any of them would do an outstanding job representing NASA and the United States on a future Artemis mission.”

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)