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While there will be no people aboard NASA’s Artemis I mission, the Orion spacecraft will not be empty. Snoopy, Girl Scout badges, LEGO minifigures and tree seeds are just a few of the thousands of mementos that will be on board when the mission launches Monday.
There will also be a lot of technology that will collect data during the 42-day 1.3 million mile mission that will take the unmanned spacecraft up to 280,000 miles from Earth and circle the moon before heading home.
It’s been nearly 50 years since humans set foot on the moon, so the test flight will also include a trial run of the new rocket and spacecraft for crewed flight.
“We are aware that this is a targeted stress test of the Orion spacecraft and the Space Launch System Rocket,” Mike Sarafin, mission manager for Artemis I, said at a news conference on Saturday.
“We will learn a lot from the Artemis I test flight. And through this experience, we will change and adapt everything necessary to prepare for a manned flight for the next mission.”
NASA plans to send humans to the moon by 2025. As part of the preparation, the passengers aboard this mission will be manikins.
Meet Commander Moonikin Campos
This doll got its name from a public contest and was ultimately named after Arturo Campos, the NASA engineer who was instrumental in safely returning the Apollo 13 crew to Earth.
Moonikin Campos will sit in the commander’s seat. Under the seat are sensors to measure acceleration and vibration to help assess what human crew members may experience during a flight. Campos will all be decked out in the official Orion Crew Survival System spacesuit which will include two radiation sensors.
And while Moonikin Campos could certainly have all the fun, it won’t be alone. There will be two other manikins included.
Helga and Zohar are what NASA calls phantoms — or manikin torsos made of materials that mimic human bones, soft tissues and adult female organs. Much of their mission involves radiation detection and measurement.
“Zohar will wear a radiation protection vest called AstroRad, while Helga will not,” NASA said in a description of the manikin’s duties. “The study will provide valuable data on the radiation levels astronauts may encounter during lunar missions and evaluate the effectiveness of the protective vest that allows crews to exit storm shelters and continue to work on critical mission activities despite a solar storm.”
Don’t forget Snoopy
While there are many different items that take part in the exciting Artemis I mission, none are perhaps as recognizable as Snoopy, the black and white dog created by American cartoonist Charles M. Schulz.
Snoopy is not new to NASA and has been associated with lunar missions since 1969 when the Apollo 10 mission’s lunar module was nicknamed Snoopy for its role in exploring or “sniffing” a landing site for the Apollo 11 mission.
Schulz also made cartoons of Snoopy on the moon that captured “public excitement over America’s achievements in space” during the Apollo years, according to NASA.
This time, however, Snoopy has a mission of his own. Since the Artemis I mission is unmanned, a plush Snoopy will serve as a gravity indicator to show the team on the ground when the spacecraft is weightless.