It’s blast off for Commander Moonikin Campos! Public chooses Apollo 13-inspired name for manikin set to be launched on NASA’s Artemis test flight around the moon later this year
- Winner of the public campaign to name the manikin on board Artemis I revealed
- Arturo Campos was a NASA engineer and key figure in bringing Apollo 13 home
- Artemis I uncrewed flight test is set to be performed on November 22 this year
The public has picked ‘Moonikin Campos’ as the name for the manikin set to be launched on NASA’s Artemis test flight around the Moon later this year.
The name is a dedication to Arturo Campos, an electrical engineer for NASA and a key player in bringing Apollo 13 safely back to Earth in April 1970.
The manikin will launch on Artemis I, NASA’s uncrewed flight test of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft, from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on November 22.
NASA’s Artemis programme will land the first woman and the next man on the moon by 2024, specifically at the lunar south pole region.
It is also hoped that establishing a sustainable lunar presence will ultimately be used as a ‘stepping stone’ for the first human mission to Mars.
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Pictured, engineers use a suited manikin to conduct vibration testing at Kennedy Space Center. The manikin will fly aboard the Orion spacecraft during the Artemis I mission, an uncrewed flight test flight due for November. All importantly, the manikin, or ‘Moonikin’, now has a name – Campos, after former NASA engineer Arturo Campos
Arturo Campos (1934-2004) was an electrical power subsystem manager for the Apollo 13 lunar module – and his heroics were crucial for returning the three astronauts on board back to Earth
Arturo Campos was a key player in bringing Apollo 13 safely back to Earth.
He was born in Laredo, Texas in 1934, hailing from a Mexican-American family.
Campos went on to graduate from the University of Texas with a degree in electrical engineering in 1956.
He had been working as a civilian employee supervising aircraft maintenance at Kelly Air Force Base in Texas before joining NASA in the early 1960s.
On April 13, 1970, Campos was asleep in his home when he got the call from his colleagues at NASA’s Manned Spacecraft Center (now Johnson Space Center).
Upon arrival, Campos learned that a service module oxygen tank aboard the Apollo 13 spacecraft had ruptured.
The command module’s normal supply of electricity, light, and water was lost, leaving astronauts Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert, and Fred Haise stuck in a crippled spacecraft about 200,000 miles (about 320,000 km) from Earth.
The mission’s initial goal of a moon landing had been abandoned; now, the top priority was making sure the astronauts survived the return home.
The team had created a contingency plan, designed to divert power from the lunar module to the command and service module equipment system, giving the astronauts enough power to return home safely.
The procedure would need to be modified in real-time by Campos – but reworking it required incredible technical expertise.
‘When they called me up, I rewrote the plan on the spot,’ he said. ‘I had written procedures for that eventuality a year before.’
The strategy that Campos and his colleagues in the Mission Evaluation Room devised was a success.
Directions for implementing the procedure were provided to members of the control room, who relayed it to the astronauts on board.
The entire process took about 15 hours, but in the end, enough power was diverted from lunar module power sources into the emergency batteries of the command and service module to provide heat to the astronauts and get them safely home.
Campos retired from NASA in 1980, and continued consulting in electrical engineering consultant work for several Houston firms. He passed away in 2004 at age 66 of a heart attack.
‘Our return to the moon through Artemis is a global effort – and we’re always looking at new ways to engage the public in our missions,’ said Brian Odom, NASA’s acting chief historian at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
‘This contest, which is helping pave the way for a human return to the Moon, also honours an important individual in our NASA family – Arturo Campos.
‘It is a fitting tribute that the data gained from Artemis I will help us prepare to fly astronauts – including the first woman and first person of colour – to the moon, where we will get ready for Mars.’
The male-bodied manikin, previously used in Orion vibration tests, received its name as the result of a competitive bracket contest honouring NASA figures, programs or astronomical objects.
NASA received more than 300,000 votes throughout the bracket tournament.
The final bracket challenge was between Campos and Delos, a reference to the island where Apollo and Artemis were born, according to Greek mythology.
Some of the other options were Duhart, a dedication to Irene Duhart Long, chief medical officer at Kennedy Space Center.
Another was Shackleton, a nod to a crater on the moon’s south pole and a reference to the famous explorer Ernest Shackleton, who led three British expeditions to the Antarctic in the early 20th century.
But Arturo Campos, a Texan native who proved the hero in the mission to get the Apollo 13 astronauts safely back to Earth, came out tops.
Campos’s plan to provide Apollo 13’s command module with enough electrical power to navigate home safely earned him the honour.
Apollo 13 was launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on April 11, 1970, with the aim of becoming the third spacecraft to land on the moon.
However, an on-board explosion ended any chances of reaching the moon and set a new challenge for the three astronauts – Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert and Fred Haise.
Campos received a phone call on April 13, 1970 telling him something had happened to the spacecraft and that he needed to report to work immediately.
Upon arrival, Campos learned that a service module oxygen tank aboard the Apollo spacecraft had ruptured.
The command module’s normal supply of electricity, light, and water was lost, leaving the astronauts stuck in a crippled spacecraft about 200,000 miles (about 320,000 km) from Earth.
Campos immediately got to work reconstructing his plan to provide the command module with enough electrical power to navigate home safely.
For his heroic efforts, Campos and other members of mission control were awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Richard Nixon in 1970.
Campos the manikin, or ‘Moonikin’ as NASA puts it, will occupy the commander’s seat inside and wear an Orion Crew Survival System suit.
Lovell (left), Swigert (centre) and Haise (right) sit together as they prepare for re-entry through Earth’s atmosphere on April 17, 1970, after an oxygen tank rupture turned Apollo 13 into a survival mission
This April 17, 1970 photo shows the severely damaged Apollo 13 service module after separation from the lunar module/command module. An entire panel on the service module was blown away by the explosion of an oxygen tank
This is the very same spacesuit that Artemis astronauts will use during launch, entry and other dynamic phases of their missions from 2024.
Campos will be equipped with two radiation sensors and have additional sensors under its headrest and behind its seat to record acceleration and vibration data throughout the mission.
Data from the Moonikin’s experience will help NASA protect astronauts during Artemis II, the first mission in more than 50 years that will send crew around the moon.
Artemis I on Mobile Launcher (artist concept). The uncrewed test flight is due for launch on November 22 this year
There were eight names to choose from in NASA’s bracket contest. The final bracket challenge was between Campos and Delos, a reference to the island where Apollo and Artemis were born, according to Greek mythology
WHAT WERE THE OTHER CONTENDERS?
There were eight names in the running:
ACE. Stands for Artemis Crew Explorer.
DELOS. The island where Apollo and Artemis were born, according to Greek myth.
DUHART. A dedication to Irene Duhart Long, chief medical officer at Kennedy Space Center.
MONTGOMERY. A dedication to Julius Montgomery, first African American to work at the Cape Canaveral Air Force station as a technical professional.
RIGEL. The giant superstar in the Orion constellation.
SHACKLETON. A crater on the Moon’s south pole and a reference to a famous Antarctic explorer.
WARGO. A dedication to Michael Wargo, NASA’s first chief exploration scientist.
CAMPOS. A dedication to Arturo Campos, key player in bringing Apollo 13 home.
Artemis II is currently scheduled to be launched by the Space Launch System in September 2023.
Campos the Moonikin is actually one of three dummy ‘passengers’ flying aboard Orion to test the spacecraft’s systems.
Two female-bodied model human torsos – named Zohar and Helga by the Israel Space Agency (ISA) and the German Aerospace Center (DLR) respectively – will also be aboard.
Zohar and Helga will support the Matroshka AstroRad Radiation Experiment (MARE), an experiment to provide data on radiation levels during lunar missions.
In April 2020, NASA released a detailed plan for an ‘Artemis Base Camp’ that will be home to first woman and next man on the moon in 2024.
The 13-page document highlights elements such as a terrain vehicle for transporting the astronauts around the landing zone, a permanent habit and a mobility platform to travel across the lunar surface.
The original Apollo astronauts remain the only humans to have been sent into deep space.
The celebrated program saw men walk on the moon for the last time in 1972, as part of the Apollo 17 mission.
After returning humans to the Moon in 2024, NASA plans to send astronauts to the moon once per year and establish lunar exploration by 2028.
The program will lay the groundwork in NASA’s plans to send crewed missions to the Mars in the 2030s.
NASA will land the first woman and next man on the moon in 2024 as part of the Artemis mission
Artemis was the twin sister of Apollo and goddess of the moon in Greek mythology.
NASA has chosen her to personify its path back to the moon, which will see astronauts return to the lunar surface by 2024 – including the first woman and the next man.
Artemis 1, formerly Exploration Mission-1, is the first in a series of increasingly complex missions that will enable human exploration to the moon and Mars.
Artemis 1 will be the first integrated flight test of NASA’s deep space exploration system: the Orion spacecraft, Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and the ground systems at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Artemis 1 will be an uncrewed flight that will provide a foundation for human deep space exploration, and demonstrate our commitment and capability to extend human existence to the moon and beyond.
During this flight, the spacecraft will launch on the most powerful rocket in the world and fly farther than any spacecraft built for humans has ever flown.
It will travel 280,000 miles (450,600 km) from Earth, thousands of miles beyond the moon over the course of about a three-week mission.
Artemis 1, formerly Exploration Mission-1, is the first in a series of increasingly complex missions that will enable human exploration to the moon and Mars. This graphic explains the various stages of the mission
Orion will stay in space longer than any ship for astronauts has done without docking to a space station and return home faster and hotter than ever before.
With this first exploration mission, NASA is leading the next steps of human exploration into deep space where astronauts will build and begin testing the systems near the moon needed for lunar surface missions and exploration to other destinations farther from Earth, including Mars.
The will take crew on a different trajectory and test Orion’s critical systems with humans aboard.
The SLS rocket will from an initial configuration capable of sending more than 26 metric tons to the moon, to a final configuration that can send at least 45 metric tons.
Together, Orion, SLS and the ground systems at Kennedy will be able to meet the most challenging crew and cargo mission needs in deep space.
Eventually NASA seeks to establish a sustainable human presence on the moon by 2028 as a result of the Artemis mission.
The space agency hopes this colony will uncover new scientific discoveries, demonstrate new technological advancements and lay the foundation for private companies to build a lunar economy.
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