Dead Sea Pebble, Pen Tip, 3D Printed Goddess: Things Flying To The Moon On Artemis-1 Today

With NASA’s green signal for final launch preparation for the Artemis-1 mission today, the science community is ready for the next big moment in space exploration: the return to the Moon. The Space Launch System will lift off from Launch Pad 39B, Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 6:00 p.m. IST.

While no humans are launching aboard the maiden flight, which aims to test and verify systems back on the Moon, NASA is sending artifacts, memorabilia and 3D-printed replicas, among other things, into lunar orbit . The Artemis-1 will carry these things for “educational engagement and posterity” in the official flight kit.

The Artemis-1 mission is NASA’s first mission to begin the process of returning humans to the Moon in the near future, decades after the Apollo missions ended. The U.S. space agency has a long history of sending terrestrial objects into space, from the Earth Sounds Gold Record on Voyager to a microchip with 10.9 million names on the Perseverance rover to Mars.

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The Orion spacecraft atop the Space Launch System will carry a small moon rock that was brought to Earth by the Apollo-11 mission under Neil Armstrong to mark the importance of Earth’s return to its natural satellite. A commemorative Apollo 8 medallion will also make the journey to lunar gravity.

The Artemis-1 will carry these things for “educational engagement and posterity”. (Photo: NASA)

A 3D-printed replica of the Greek goddess Artemis has also been placed in the kit, which will then be displayed at the Acropolis Museum in Greece upon return. The Israeli Space Agency, meanwhile, sends a pebble from the shore of the Dead Sea, the lowest surface of dry land on Earth.

As the German Space Agency flies digitized versions of student visions of lunar exploration as part of a nationwide educational activity, the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center sends the tip of a pen over the orbit of the Moon. The quill, used by Schulz himself, will be wrapped in a space-themed comic strip.

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“Many items included in the flight kit are symbols of cultural significance or NASA’s collaborative efforts with STEM-focused organizations. Approximately 100 miniature Artemis I patches will be included and returned after flight for recognition of the team to select participants in the Artemis Student Challenges,” NASA said, adding that the kit will also contain a variety of flags, patches and pins to distribute after the mission.

The Space Launch System will blast off from Kennedy Launch Pad 39B during a two-hour launch window that opens at 6:00 p.m. IST. The world’s most powerful rocket will make a 42-day journey beyond the Moon and back.

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