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Although no human crew will travel aboard NASA’s Artemis I mission, that doesn’t mean the Orion spacecraft will be empty.
When the Space Launch System rocket and Orion capsule, scheduled for launch on August 29, embark on a journey beyond the moon, the spacecraft will have some special items on board.
Inside Orion are three mannequins, toys and even an Amazon Alexa, as well as historical and educational items.
The mission – which will launch the Artemis program with the goal of eventually returning humans to the Moon – continues a tradition that began in the 1960s when NASA spacecraft carried souvenirs. The tradition includes Voyager spacecraft gold record and the Perseverance rover microchip with 10.9 million names. Artemis I will carry 120 pounds of souvenirs and other items in her official flight gear.
Orion’s command seat will be Commander Moonikin Campos, a suitable mannequin capable of gathering data on what future human crews might experience on a lunar voyage. His name, chosen via a public competition, is a nod to Arturo Camposa NASA electrical power subsystem manager who helped ensure the safe return of Apollo 13 to Earth.
The commander’s post has sensors behind the seat and headrest to track acceleration and vibration for the duration of the mission, which is expected to last around 42 days. The mannequin will also wear the new Orion Crew Survival System suit, designed for astronauts to wear during launch and re-entry. The suit has two radiation sensors.
Two “phantoms” named Helga and Zohar will sit in other Orion seats. These mannequin torsos are made from materials that mimic a woman’s soft tissue, organs and bones. The two torsos have more than 5,600 sensors and 34 radiation detectors to measure how much radiation occurs during the mission.
The mannequins are part of the Matroshka AstroRad radiation experiment, a collaboration between the German Aerospace Center, the Israel Space Agency, NASA and institutions in several countries. Zohar will wear AstroRad, a radiation protection vest, to test how effective it could be when future crews encounter a solar storm.
Alexa from Amazon will ride with you as a technology demonstration developed between Lockheed Martin, Amazon and Cisco. The tech demo, called Callisto, shows reconfigured versions of Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa and Cisco’s WebEx teleconferencing platform to test how these apps perform in space.
Callisto, named after one of the hunting companions of Artemis from Greek mythology, aims to demonstrate how astronauts and flight controllers can use technology to make their jobs safer and more efficient while humans explore space.
Callisto will ride on Orion’s center console. The touchscreen tablet transmits live video and audio between the spacecraft and the Mission Control Center at Johnson Space Center in Houston.
Snoopy and space simply belong together. Charles M. Schulz’s popular character has been associated with NASA missions since the Apollo program, when Schulz drew comic strips showing Snoopy on the moon. The Apollo 10 Lunar Module was nicknamed “Snoopy” because, according to NASA, its job was to sniff around and scout the Apollo 11 landing site on the moon.
A Snoopy plush first flew into space in 1990 aboard the Columbia shuttle.
A pen tip used by Schulz of the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center in Santa Rosa, California will join the Artemis I mission wrapped in a space comic. And a plush Snoopy toy flies in the capsule as a zero-gravity indicator.
The agency has a long history of using toys in space as indicators of zero gravity – so called because they begin to levitate once the spacecraft has entered zero gravity.
As part of NASA’s collaboration with the European Space Agency, which provided the service module for Orion, a small Shaun the Sheep toy will also be an Artemis passenger. The character is part of a children’s series spinoff of the Wallace and Gromit series.
As part of an ongoing partnership between NASA and the Lego Group, four Lego minifigures will also ride in the Orion in hopes of engaging children and adults in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education.
The Artemis I Official Flight Kit, which contains thousands of articleshas a variety of patches, pins and flags ready to share with those who contributed to the inaugural flight after the capsule touched down in the Pacific Ocean in October.
A number of the items — such as Girl Scouts of America space science badges, digitized student visions of the German Space Agency’s lunar exploration, and digital entries from the Artemis Moon Pod Essay Contest — recognize the contributions of interested students and teachers in STEM.
A variety of tree and plant seeds will be on board, in a nod to a similar tradition that began during the Apollo 14 mission. The seeds were later planted and became “moon trees” as part of an experiment to understand the effects of the space environment on seeds. NASA will share the Artemis seeds with teachers and educational organizations once the pod returns.
Several Apollo items are included, including an Apollo 8 commemorative medallion, an Apollo 11 mission badge, a bolt from one of Apollo 11’s F-1 engines, and a small moon rock collected during Apollo 11 and also on board the last space shuttle flew flight. The items were shared by the National Air and Space Museum, which will feature them in an exhibit upon their return.
Cultural pieces will also be on the flight. A 3D printed replica of the Greek goddess Artemis will join the space journey and will later be displayed at the Greek Acropolis Museum. The European Space Agency has shared a postcard of Georges Méliès’ famous artwork A Voyage to the Moon for the flight kit.
And the Israel Space Agency donated a pebble from the deepest dry land surface on earth, the shores of the Dead Sea, to travel on Artemis 1, a flight that will venture farther than any human has flown before.