When the Space Launch System rocket and Orion capsule, scheduled for liftoff on August 29, set off on their journey beyond the moon, the spacecraft will carry some special items on board.
Inside the Orion will be three books, toys and even an Amazon Alexa, along with historical and educational items.
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 about 42 days. The new Orion crew will also wear survival system suits designed for astronauts to wear during launch and re-entry. The suit has two radiation sensors.
Two “phantoms” named Helga and Zohar will ride in the other Orion seats. This mannequin torso is made of material that mimics a woman’s soft tissue, organs and bones. The two fuselages have more than 5,600 sensors and 34 radiation detectors to measure radiation exposure during the mission.
Callisto, named for one of Artemis’ hunting attendants from Greek mythology, aims to show how astronauts and flight controllers can use technology to make their jobs safer and more efficient as humans explore deep space.
Callisto will ride on Orion’s center console. The touch-screen tablet will share video and audio live between the spacecraft and the Mission Control Center at Johnson Space Center in Houston.
toys in space
Snoopy and space just go together. The beloved character, created by Charles M. Schulz, has been associated with NASA missions since the Apollo program, when Schulz drew comic strips featuring Snoopy on the moon. The Apollo 10 lunar module was nicknamed “Snoopy” because its job was to snoop and scout around the Apollo 11 landing site on the moon, according to NASA.
A Snoopy plush first flew into space aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia in 1990.
A pen nib used by Schulz, wrapped in a space-themed comic strip, from the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center in Santa Rosa, California, will join the Artemis I mission. And a plush Snoopy toy will fly in the capsule as a zero gravity indicator.
The agency has a long history of using toys in space as zero gravity indicators — so named because they begin to float when the spacecraft enters 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 show spinoff of the “Wallace and Gromit” series.
Four LEGO minifigures will also ride in Orion as part of an ongoing partnership between NASA and The Lego Group, hoping to engage kids and adults in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education.
A space time capsule
Several items — such as space science badges from the Girl Scouts of America, digitized student visions of lunar exploration from the German Space Agency, and digital entries for the Artemis Moon Pod essay contest — honor the contributions of students and faculty with an interest in STEM.
A variety of tree and plant seeds will be on board for a similar tradition started 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. When the capsule returns, NASA will share the Artemis seeds with teachers and educational institutions.
Several Apollo items are along for the ride, including an Apollo 8 commemorative medallion, an Apollo 11 mission patch, a bolt from one of Apollo 11’s F-1 engines, and a small moon rock collected during Apollo 11 that flew on the final spacecraft Flight items It was shared by the National Air and Space Museum, which will feature in an exhibit upon their return.
Cultural pieces will be in flight, too. A 3D-printed replica of the Greek goddess Artemis will join the spacewalk and later be displayed at Greece’s Acropolis Museum. The European Space Agency has shared a postcard of Georges Méliès’ famous “A Trip to the Moon” artwork for the flight kit.
And the Israel Space Agency has donated a pebble from the shores of the Dead Sea, Earth’s lowest dry land surface, to travel aboard Artemis 1, a flight that will go further than any human before.