Mannequins and souvenirs are taking a trip around the moon in NASA’s Orion capsule – without 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.
While no humans will travel aboard the Artemis I mission, once it takes off for the moon, it won’t be empty. Along for the ride in the Orion capsule will be mannequins, zero-gravity indicators, artifacts, souvenirs and more.
NASA is planning to launch its new Space Launch System, with the Orion capsule designed to host astronauts perched atop the rocket, on August 29.
It would be an important first step in the space agency’s efforts to get humans back to the surface of the moon for the first time since 1972. The SLS megarocket plans to fly the crew capsule around the moon – farther than any spacecraft built for humans ever flew – before heading back for a swim in the Pacific Ocean.
Here are some of the cool and colorful cargoes slated to make the journey 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 Fields. The name is a tribute to Arturo Campos, an electrical engineer who played a key role in the safe return of Apollo 13 to Earth.
Dressed in the new Orion Crew Survival System spacesuit, Commander Moonikin will provide NASA scientists with vital data on what humans experience during a trip to the moon. Two sensors placed behind the commander’s seat and under the headrest will record acceleration and vibration generated throughout the mission, and the dummy itself is equipped with two sensors to measure radiation exposure.
“It is critical for us to obtain data from the Artemis I dummy to ensure that all newly designed systems, along with a power dampening system on which the seats are mounted, integrate and provide the protection that crew members will need in preparation for our first manned mission on 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 ride in 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 wear a radiation shielding vest, while Helga will not.
“When it comes to biological effects, different organs have different susceptibilities to space radiation. Understanding the impact is very important to successful and sustainable human space exploration efforts,” said Ramona Gaza, Science Team Leader at the Johnson Space Center at NASA. NASA in Houston at an Aug. 17 press conference.
She added that the team is studying how women experience the space environment “as women in general are at a higher risk of developing cancer as they have organs that are more sensitive to radiation, such as breast tissue and ovaries.”
Space agencies hope that studying the experience of these dummies will prepare astronauts who plan to fly around the moon on the Artemis 2 mission in 2024, and Artemis 3 astronauts who eventually land on the moon. The insights of Zohar and Helga will be particularly helpful as the Artemis program aims to send the first woman to the moon.
Zero gravity indicators are small items aboard a spacecraft that serve as a visual indicator that it has entered zero gravity. Artemis, I’ll have some cute indicators.
Shaun from the famous British TV show “Shaun the Sheep” will fly aboard the Artemis I mission in the form of a plush doll.
“This is an exciting time for Shaun and for us at ESA,” said David Parker, the European Space Agency’s director for human and robotic exploration, in a statement. “We are delighted that he was selected for the mission and we understand that while it may be a small step for a human, it is a giant leap for a lamb.”
To “train” for the journey, Shaun took a parabolic flight aboard a special Airbus “Zero G” A310 that creates the microgravity-like weightlessness condition.
A familiar fuzzy figure will also fly as a zero-gravity indicator in the capsule..
Snoopy, the beloved Peanuts character, has been associated with NASA missions since the Apollo program. In fact, the Apollo 10 lunar module was given the nickname “Snoopy” because its job was to snoop around and explore the Apollo 11 moon landing site, according to NASA.
A plush version of the beagle – wearing a spacesuit designed to strict NASA specifications – will alert the team once the capsule reaches a microgravity environment.
Four Lego minifigures plan to go around the moon in the Artemis I mission.
The figures also star in Lego’s “Build to Launch” series, which was designed in collaboration with NASA to provide students with 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 diverse roles, backgrounds and abilities within the Artemis I team,” Lego Education said in a statement. communicated in November 2018. last year.
NASA intends to establish permanent bases in the moon’s orbit and on its surface, paving the way to eventually send astronauts to Mars.
Reliably growing crops in space will be necessary for potential space travelers to survive longer missions. For that, 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 aboard 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.”
“Gathering information like this and analyzing it post-flight will help us paint the full picture of how we can help humans thrive in deep space,” added Bhattacharya.
As part of the Artemis I Official Flight Kit, which contains around 120 pounds of souvenirs, several artifacts from previous space missions will be on the Orion spacecraft as it reaches the moon.
A small piece of moon rock from the Apollo 11 mission, a patch from the Apollo 11 mission, and a bolt from one of the Apollo 11 F-1 engines will be along for the ride.
Objects of cultural importance will also be on the round-trip, including a 3D-printed replica of the Greek goddess Artemis and a pebble from the lowest dry land surface on Earth, the coast of the Dead Sea – venturing further than any other. human being has gone. before.
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