NASA plans to launch its Artemis 1 mission to the moon on Monday (Aug. 29) from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, carrying equipment for an experiment to test the radiation protection of the Israeli AstroRad vest.
In addition, the spacecraft will be carrying a mezuzah, a stone from the Dead Sea, and seeds for a tree to be planted in Israel after the spacecraft returns to Earth.
“The Israeli space industry proves once again how significant and influential Israel is in the field of space, and how important it is to continue investing in this field,” Hila Hadad Hamelnik, director-general of the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Technology said in a statement.
“The Israeli Space Agency in the Ministry of Innovation and Science succeeded, thanks to Israel’s special relations with the USA and with NASA, in promoting this important experiment, the success of which will provide an important solution without which humanity will not be able to reach the moon and beyond.
“The promise embodied in the Israeli technology developed by StemRad may give astronauts the Israel’s unique contribution to radiation protection in space, and to pave the way for more Israeli space companies.”
The flight is scheduled for lift-off at 8:33 am Eastern Time, with solid rocket booster separation timed to take place two minutes and 12 seconds later.
The mission is set to return to Earth 43 days later with entry and splashdown expected at 11:53 am.
Zohar and Helga
The experimental manikins “Zohar” and “Helga” will be used to test the radiation protection vest developed by the Israeli startup company StemRad in a joint experiment by the Israeli Space Agency with its German counterpart in partnership with NASA and with the assistance of Lockheed Martin. Zohar will wear a radiation protection vest, called AstroRad, while Helga will not.
The two manikins are manufactured from materials that mimic human bone, soft tissue and the organs of an adult female; female forms were chosen because women have greater sensitivity to the effects of space radiation.
Zohar will be wearing the StemRad radiation vest, and Helga will not. Both manikins will be fitted with more than 5,600 passive sensors and 34 active radiation detectors to measure radiation exposure as part of the Matroshka AstroRad Radiation Experiment (MARE), an international effort including the German Aerospace Center, the Israel Space Agency, and NASA.
The study will provide valuable data on radiation levels astronauts may encounter on lunar missions and evaluate the effectiveness of the protective vest that could allow crew to exit the storm shelter and continue working on critical mission activities in spite of a solar storm.
Radiation Area Monitor (RAM)
Radiation sensor technology aboard the spacecraft includes six Radiation Area Monitor (RAM) passive detectors about the size of a matchbox that will record the total radiation dose during the mission.
As passive instruments, they require no source of power to collect radiation dose information and will be analyzed after the flight.
Small, low-cost science and technology experiments called CubeSats will deploy into deep space from the Orion stage adapter attached to the ICPS.
These CubeSats are not much larger than a shoebox, weigh about 25 pounds (11 kilograms) each, and contain science and technology that may help pave the way for future human exploration in deep space.
International space agency partners and universities are involved with several of the CubeSats, including those from around the United States, and Japan.
‘Commander Moonikin Campos’
A suited manikin named Commander Moonikin Campos will occupy the commander’s seat inside Orion to provide data on what crew members may experience in flight.
The manikin’s seat will be outfitted with two sensors – one under the headrest and another behind the seat – to record acceleration and vibration throughout the mission.
Five additional accelerometers inside Orion will provide data to compare vibration and acceleration between the upper and lower seats.
The Orion Crew Survival System suit – a spacesuit astronauts will wear during launch, entry, and other dynamic phases of their missions – worn by the manikin will also be equipped with two radiation sensors.
Orion will also carry a payload called Biological Experiment-01 containing four space biology investigations.
These investigations will look at the effects of the deep space environment on the nutritional value of seeds, DNA repair of fungi, adaptation of yeast, and gene expression of algae during the journey around the Moon.
The experiments will take place inside a container stored within Orion’s crew module for the duration of Artemis I and will be returned to researchers for post-flight analyses after the spacecraft splashes down.
The fundamental knowledge gained from these investigations will help us learn how we can better thrive in deep space, for future missions to the Moon and Mars.
Callisto Partnership: Lockheed Martin, Amazon, Cisco
Callisto is a technology demonstration developed through a reimbursable space act agreement with Lockheed Martin.
Lockheed Martin has partnered with Amazon, and Cisco to bring the Alexa digital assistant and Webex video collaboration aboard Orion’s first flight test in deep space.
Named after a mythological Greek goddess and one of Artemis’ hunting attendants, Callisto is meant to show how commercial technology could assist future astronauts on deep space missions.
The payload will demonstrate how astronauts and flight controllers can use human-machine interface technology to make their jobs simpler, safer and more efficient, and advance human exploration in deep space.
The industry-funded payload will be located on Orion’s center console and includes a tablet that will test Webex by Cisco video conferencing software, to transmit video and audio from the Mission Control Center at Johnson.
Custom-built hardware and software by Lockheed Martin and Amazon will also test Alexa, Amazon’s voice-based virtual assistant, to respond to the transmitted audio.