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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

In Greek mythology, Apollo is Artemis’ twin sister, but to the chagrin of some classicists, the first crewed U.S. Moon mission was named after him. Only now is Artemis — the name of NASA's 2024 mission — getting the credit some say she deserves.

The context: 50 years ago, the workforce behind Apollo 11 was majority white and male. With the Artemis program, NASA aims to be more inclusive. The agency plans to send the next man and the first woman to the lunar surface in 5 years.

The backdrop: In 1960, NASA director of space flight development Abe Silverstein proposed the name "Apollo" for the first crewed U.S. mission to the Moon after reading through a mythology book. An image of Apollo riding his chariot across the sun inspired him, because it matched the ambition of the program.

But "an ancient Greek would have thought twice before daring to name a lunar mission after the goddess' (Artemis') younger brother," says Keyne Cheshire, a classics professor at Davidson College.

  • Apollo was a Sun god, whereas Artemis was a Moon goddess. So "Apollo" made less mythological sense as a name for Moon expeditions.
  • "I can't imagine that anything but sexism was the reason for Apollo's getting the credit for so long," Cheshire tells Axios.

By contrast, the Soviet Union sent the first man, first woman, first Asian man and first black man into orbit with their "Luna" program, although the U.S. ultimately sent the first man to the Moon.

  • "Luna" is the Latin name for the Roman Moon goddess Diana.
  • "What was it about American scientific — or broader — culture that led NASA to resist naming its lunar expeditions for the Moon goddess?" Cheshire asks.

Today, NASA is becoming more and more diverse, with 5 women in its most recent class of 12 astronaut candidates.

What's next: After Artemis, Cheshire would recommend "Callisto" — who was "originally a young comrade" of Artemis — as the name for a future Moon mission.

  • Callisto is the name of one of the moons of Jupiter.
  • "Wouldn't it be nice of NASA to put Callisto in some way back in Artemis' camp by naming a Moon mission for her?"

Go deeper:

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A key Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Friday overwhelmingly voted against recommending Pfizer vaccine booster shots for younger Americans, but unanimously recommended approving the third shots for individuals 65 and older, as well as those at high-risk of severe COVID-19.

Why it matters: While the votes are non-binding, and the FDA must still make a final decision, Friday's move pours cold water on the Biden administration's plan to begin administering boosters to most individuals who received the Pfizer vaccine later this month.

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L), French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (C), and French ambassador to the U.S. Philippe Etienne. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

France has taken the extraordinary step of recalling its ambassadors to the U.S. and Australia after both countries blindsided their French allies with a new military pact and submarine contract, the French Foreign Ministry announced on Friday.

The backstory: While sealing an agreement with the U.S. and U.K. to acquire nuclear submarines, Australia ripped up an existing $90 billion submarine deal with France. That led senior French officials to accuse the U.S. of a "stab in the back."

Updated 5 hours ago - World

In reversal, Pentagon now says drone strike killed 10 Afghan civilians

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A U.S. drone strike launched on Aug. 29 killed 10 civilians in Afghanistan, including seven children, rather than the Islamic State extremists the Biden administration claimed it targeted, the Pentagon said Friday.

Why it matters: U.S. Central Command said at the time that officials "know" the drone strike "disrupted an imminent ISIS-K threat" to Kabul's airport, and that they were "confident we successfully hit the target."