Artemis 1 rocket: What will NASA’s lunar mission take to space?

At three meters tall, NASA’s Orion capsule is roomier than the Apollo capsule and carries four astronauts instead of three, but for Monday’s test flight it will have a payload that will range from ‘a mannequin named Helga down to pieces of the Apollo 11 engine and some stuffed toy.

For the flight, a full-size dummy in an orange flight suit will occupy the commander’s seat, equipped with vibration and acceleration sensors. The “Commander” was named Moonikin Campos in a public contest, after Arturo Campos, a NASA engineer who helped save Apollo 13 from disaster by figuring out how to manipulate its partially damaged electrical system to bring the astronauts home.

Two other mannequins made of material that simulates human tissue (female heads and torsos but without limbs) will measure cosmic radiation, one of the biggest risks of spaceflight. Their names are Helga and Zohar. A torso is trying on a protective vest from Israel.

Unlike the SLS rocket below it, Orion has launched before, orbiting Earth twice in 2014. This time, the European Space Agency’s Service Module will be attached for propulsion and solar energy through four wings.

In addition to three test dummies, the flight carries a host of research projects into deep space. Ten shoebox-sized satellites will explode as Orion climbs toward the moon.

These “cubesats” were installed on the rocket a year ago, and the batteries of half of them could not be recharged because the launch was delayed. NASA expects some to fail, given their low-cost, high-risk nature. Radiation measurement cubesats should be fine, along with a solar sail demonstration aimed at an asteroid.

Orion will carry a few pieces of lunar rock collected by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin from Apollo 11 in 1969, and a bolt from one of its rocket engines, recovered from the sea a decade ago.

Aldrin will not attend the launch, according to NASA, but three of his former colleagues will be there: Walter Cunningham of Apollo 7, Tom Stafford of Apollo 10 and Harrison Schmitt of Apollo 17, the penultimate man to go walk on the moon

Snoopy plush toys are a NASA institution, named after the Apollo 10 lunar module that flew to the Moon to test descent and landing procedures, but never landed.

A Snoopy toy went on the space shuttle Columbia, and this time the cartoon character will be accompanied by Shaun the sheep, to recognize the involvement of the European Space Agency. Its official purpose is to demonstrate zero gravity, floating.

Orion will carry Biological Experiment-01 containing experiments on seeds, fungi, yeasts and algae. There is also a voice recognition demonstration called Callisto, jointly developed by Amazon, Cisco Systems and Lockheed, which will test how Amazon’s Alexa works in a space capsule and how this system could be used by future astronauts.

The official “flight kit” of the dummy astronauts includes thousands of other items, many of which will become “space-flown” souvenirs back on Earth. They include seeds that will be planted to become “moon trees,” a Dead Sea pebble, mission patches, stickers, USB drives, and national flags. Even some Legos have made it on board.

Artemis 1 mission in numbers

  • Release location: Launchpad 39B, NASA Kennedy Complex, Florida

  • Release date: August 29, 2022

  • Start window: 8:33 a.m. to 10:33 a.m. EDT (US East Coast Time)

  • Mission duration: 42 days, 3 hours, 20 minutes

  • Destination: distant retrograde orbit around the Moon

  • Total mission distance: 1.3m miles (2.1m km)

  • splashdown: Pacific Ocean, off the coast of San Diego

  • Maximum return speed: 25,000 mph (40,000 km/h)

  • splashdown: October 10, 2022

With the Associated Press

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