Hope is not lost that Artemis I, NASA’s historic mission to kick off the next stage of going back to the Moon, will fly this week. Although it is an uncrewed mission, there are some very eager passengers on board, including Snoopy, Shaun the Sheep, and some very NSFW-looking manikins.
Among other things, Artemis I is an important test mission to ensure the safety of astronauts on future missions by checking things, such as that the Orion spacecraft can withstand the temperatures of reentry through Earth’s atmosphere – not something you want to try out with people onboard.
As is a long-standing tradition for NASA missions, starting with Apollo, Artemis will also be taking mementos, commemorative items, and gifts of gratitude to all those that have made this mission possible, around 10,000 items in all.
NASA has confirmed that two items from Apollo 11, the mission that first put humans on the Moon, are onboard: a small sample of Moondust, and a piece of the rocket that enabled its collection more than 50 years ago, on loan from the Smithsonian. Neil Armstong took a piece of the Wright brothers’ Wright Flyer plane with him in 1969, so perhaps one day a piece of Artemis will fly to Mars.
Two female LEGO astronauts and Shaun the Sheep are flying the flag for NASA and the European Space Agency’s (ESA) educational outreach programs, while Snoopy is acting as the mission’s all-important gravity indicator. There are even 90 Girl Scout space science badges that will be awarded to the winners of a “To the Moon and Back” essay contest.
Most of the items are gifts and souvenirs that will be given to members of the space program on return to Earth, ranging from pens to lapel pins, including 2,790 Artemis I mission patches for the thousands who made this mission happen.
There are also USB drives and microchips containing poems, drawings, videos and more submitted by members of the public and collected by NASA, ESA, the Italian and German space agencies. The Israeli Space Agency is sending a pebble from the Dead Sea and tree seeds while ESA is including a 3D-printed model of the Greek goddess Artemis.
Our favorite, however, has to be the manikins apparently decked out in blue bondage gear. Meet Helga and Zohar, two "female" manikin torsos made up of materials that mimic adult female bones, tissue, and organs. Part of the Matroshka AstroRad Radiation Experiment (MARE), they are the first two female radiotherapy “phantoms” (as NASA calls them) to be sent on a space flight. Zohar is the one wearing the radiation protection vest.
We understand they are a vital component of the test mission but bondage denim is a look.