In brief: NASA's Artemis I mission to the moon is gathering pace. With assembly of the massive SLS rocket progressing, the agency has moved onto the next important step: picking a name for the non-human passenger. You can decide what this "moonikin" (a play on manikin) will be called, though it involves choosing from a list, so there'll be no Kirk, Picard, or Moony McMoonface.
The "Name The Artemis Moonikin Challenge" offers eight pre-selected names for the public to choose. Each one has a back story, rather than just being picked out of a hat.
😎 The view looks good.— NASA (@NASA) June 14, 2021
ICYMI: Workers at @NASAKennedy attached the @NASA_SLS core stage to its twin solid rocket boosters. This massive rocket will propel our @NASA_Orion spacecraft on the #Artemis I mission around the Moon: https://t.co/PktwXexXDZ pic.twitter.com/d5yNL6JEdf
The first is ACE, an acronym for Artemis Crew Explorer. This is a personal favorite and should appeal to fans of British sci-fi series Red Dwarf. Next is Campos, named after the NASA electrical engineer Arturo Campos who was instrumental in getting the Apollo 13 crew home safely. There's also Delos, a reference to an island in the Aegean Sea, and Duhart, a tribute to Dr. Irene Duhart Long, the first African American woman to serve in the Senior Executive Service at Kennedy Space Center.
The final four options are Montgomery, not a reference to Star Trek's Scotty but to Julius Montgomery, the first African American ever hired at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to work as a technical professional; Rigel, from the star; Shackleton, a nod to Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton; and finally, there's Wargo, which originates from Michael Wargo, who represented NASA as the first Chief Exploration Scientist for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters.
You'll be able to vote for your favorite name on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram from today in a knockout-style tournament. The final vote will take place on June 28, and the winner will be announced on June 29.
Nasa said the moonikin would "be equipped with two radiation sensors, and sensors in the seat -- one under the headrest and another behind the seat -- to record acceleration and vibration throughout the mission as Orion travels around the Moon and back to Earth." It will be joined on the craft by two model human torsos— Zolgar and Helga—made from materials that mimic the bones, soft tissue, and organs of an adult female. Nasa is calling the half-bodies "phantoms," somewhat creepily.