Mannequins and memorabilia take a trip around the moon in NASA’s Orion capsule — sans people.
The Space Launch System rocket, with the Orion capsule on top, is scheduled to launch on August 29.
Artemis I is the first mission in NASA’s program to land astronauts on the moon and eventually Mars.
Although no humans will travel on the Artemis I mission once it launches to the moon, it will not be empty. Along with the Orion capsule ride will be mannequins, zero gravity markers, artifacts, memorabilia and more.
NASA plans to launch its new space launch system, the Orion capsule designed to house astronauts perched atop the rocket, on August 29.
It would be an important first step in the space agency’s efforts to return humans to the surface of the moon for the first time since 1972. The mega-rocket SLS plans to fly the crew capsule all the way around the moon — farther than any spacecraft made for humans has ever flown — before returning for a dive in the Pacific Ocean.
Here are some of the cool and colorful loads planned for the trip to the moon and back.
Strapped into the commander’s seat at the head of the Orion capsule is a human-sized test dummy named Commander Moonikin Campos. The name is a nod to Arturo Campos, an electrical engineer who was instrumental in Apollo 13’s safe return to Earth.
Dressed in the new Orion Crew Survival System spacesuit, Commander Moonikin will provide NASA scientists with vital data about what humans experience during a trip to the moon. Two sensors placed behind the commander’s seat and under the headrest will record the acceleration and vibrations generated throughout the mission, and the mannequin itself is equipped with two sensors to measure radiation exposure.
“It is critical for us to receive data from the Artemis I dummy to ensure that all of the newly designed systems, along with an energy damping system in which the seats are mounted, will integrate with each other and provide the crew members with the in preparation for our first crew aboard Artemis II,” Jason Hutt, NASA’s lead for Orion Crew Systems Integration, said in a statement last year.
Two other mannequins named Helga and Zohar will lead the Orion’s passenger seats.
They have torsos made of materials that mimic a woman’s soft tissue, organs and bones, along with 5,600 sensors and 34 radiation detectors to measure how much radiation exposure occurs during the mission. The only difference between the two mannequins is that Zohar will be wearing a radiation protection vest, while Helga will not.
“When it comes to biological effects, different organs have different sensitivities to space radiation. Understanding the impact is very important for successful and sustainable human space exploration efforts,” said Ramona Gaza, science team leader at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. news update on August 17.
He added that the team is studying how women experience the space environment “as women in general have a higher risk of developing cancer as they have more radiation-sensitive organs such as breast tissue and ovaries.”
The space agency hopes that studying the experience of these mannequins will prepare astronauts who plan to fly around the moon on the Artemis 2 mission in 2024 and the Artemis 3 astronauts who eventually land on the moon. The knowledge from Zohar and Helga will be especially useful as the Artemis program aims to send the first woman to the moon.
Zero gravity markers are small objects on a spacecraft that serve as a visual indication that it has entered zero gravity. Artemis I will have two cute pointers.
Shaun, from the British TV show “Shaun the Sheep”, will fly on the Artemis I mission in plush doll form.
“This is an exciting time for Shaun and for us at ESA,” David Parker, the European Space Agency’s director of human and robotic exploration, said in a statement. “We are very pleased that he has been chosen for the mission and understand that while that may be one small step for a man, it is one giant leap for the lambs.”
To “train” for the trip, Shaun went on a parabolic flight in a special Airbus “Zero G” A310 that creates weightlessness similar to microgravity.
A familiar fuzzy figure will also fly as a zero-gravity marker in the capsule.
Snoopy, the beloved Peanuts character, has long been associated with NASA missions since the Apollo program. In fact, the Apollo 10 lunar module was nicknamed “Snoopy” because its job was to track and detect the Apollo 11 landing site on the moon, according to NASA.
A plush version of the beagle — wearing a spacesuit designed to NASA’s exacting specifications — will alert the team once the capsule reaches microgravity.
Four Lego Minifigures plan to walk around the moon on the Artemis I mission.
The figurines also star in Lego’s ‘Build to Launch’ series, designed in partnership with NASA, to offer students lessons on different concepts and careers inspired by the Artemis missions.
“Each minifigure represents a real-life counterpart, such as command pilot Kate and mission specialist Kyle, to help students better understand the different roles, backgrounds and skills within the Artemis I team,” Lego Education said. in a statement last November.
NASA aims to establish permanent bases in lunar orbit and on its surface, paving the way to eventually send astronauts to Mars.
Reliable cultivation of crops in space will be necessary for would-be space travelers to survive on longer missions. To that end, the space agency wants to understand how to grow plants in space for food and oxygen on the moon or during space missions.
A variety of tree and plant seeds will be on Artemis I as part of experiments to study the effects of space radiation on them. According to a statement by Sharmila Bhattacharya, NASA’s program scientist for space biology, “they will help us understand a unique aspect of how biological systems can adapt and thrive in deep space.”
“Collecting information like this and analyzing it after flight will ultimately help us paint the full picture of how we can help humans thrive in deep space,” Bhattacharya added.
As part of Artemis I’s Official Flight Kit, which contains approximately 120 kilograms of memorabilia, several items from past space missions will be on the Orion spacecraft as it reaches the moon.
A small piece of moon from the Apollo 11 mission, an Apollo 11 mission patch and a bolt from one of Apollo 11’s F-1 engines will be along for the ride.
Artifacts of cultural significance will also be on the return trip, including a 3D replica of the Greek goddess Artemis and a pebble from Earth’s lowest land surface, the shore of the Dead Sea — venturing further than any human has gone before.
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