In what looks set to be a giant leap for manikinkind, NASA is planning to send a dummy on a flyby of the moon. And the space agency wants your help to name it.
The manikin — or “moonikin” as the space agency is calling it — will be part of the crewless Artemis 1 mission, which will perform a flyby of the moon later this year as part of prep work for subsequent crewed missions that will include a lunar landing.
Ever eager to engage space fans, NASA has announced a contest to name the manikin, which will be kitted out in full astronaut garb for the big trip.
In an apparent effort to prevent Manikin McManikinface from winning out, NASA has pre-selected eight names as part of a bracket contest.
The contenders are: Ace, Wargo, Delos, Duhart, Campos, Shackleton, Montgomery, and Rigel. Each name has been carefully chosen. For example, Ace stands for Artemis Crew Explorer; Wargo is a dedication to Michael Wargo, NASA’s first chief exploration scientist; and Montgomery is a nod to Julius Montgomery, the first African American to work at the Cape Canaveral Space Facility as a technical professional.
Every other day starting Wednesday, June 16, you can hit Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram (@NASAArtemis) to vote for one of two names. The winner of each bracket will remain in the contest until the final showdown on Monday, June 28, with the winning name set to be officially announced on Tuesday, June 29.
The purpose of the manikin isn’t so NASA can tweet some entertaining photos showing what the crewed Artemis 2 mission might look like. It will actually play a vital role in the mission, with carefully placed sensors on its seat providing the agency with important data about how various stages of the flight will affect human crew taking the same route later on.
“The manikin on Artemis 1 will 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,” NASA explains on its website. “Data from these and other sensors inside the spacecraft will help NASA understand how to best protect crew members for Artemis 2 and beyond.”
NASA is making good progress toward the first launch of its awesome SLS rocket that will carry the moon-bound Orion spacecraft — and the manikin — into space, recently starting the stacking process for the powerful space vehicle.
Assuming the first two Artemis missions go to plan, NASA is planning to send the first woman and next man to the lunar surface in 2024 or soon after, marking the first human landing there since 1972.