KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. – When the Artemis I moon rocket with the Orion crew capsule on board rolls out of the Vehicle Assembly Building one final time before launch, everything that is headed to space will be on board the crew capsule, including a brand-new space suit.
There will be no humans on board this time, but there will be a mannequin that is no dummy. He’ll be testing out one of the more critical components of the entire Artemis moon-bound program so that humans can survive inside the capsule the next time: the new spacesuit.
[TRENDING: Can a Florida wildlife officer pull me over for a traffic violation? | Brightline announces traffic advisories from Orlando to West Palm Beach | Central Florida boy, 10, loses leg in shark attack | Become a News 6 Insider (it’s free!)]
Dustin Gohmert, Orion crew survival systems project manager at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, said the new suit is unique.
“We’re going to be launching a suit — the Orion crew survival suit — on a suited mannequin. That’s Commander Moonikin Campos,” Gohmet said.
The mannequin is named for legendary Apollo engineer Arturo Campos.
This afternoon, NASA explained what’s different about the spacesuit — or “survival suit” — that Moonikin will be wearing.
“The function of this suit is pretty interesting,” Gohmert said. “You can almost think of it as a personalized spacecraft — a secondary but much more personal spacecraft that protects the crew member, provides them pressure, oxygen, cooling and any other life-sustaining functions that are needed.”
Astronauts are supposed to be able to survive entirely inside that survival suit for up to six days if there’s a problem. That’s never been done before.
A regular ride to the Space Station takes fewer than two days. It took Apollo 11 four days to get to the moon in 1969.
NASA said Artemis I will take up to 14 days to get to the moon.
Moonikin is fitted with sensors to test the suit and confirm it functions as intended.
Also onboard Orion is a modified Amazon Alexa.
Astronauts in space, like people on Earth, do little tasks and chores all day while they’re inside their spacecraft, so Lockheed Martin, together with Amazon, has re-designed its Alexa voice-control system to help with those tasks and chores in space.
Rob Chambers, director of commercial civil space strategy at Lockheed Martin, said the customized Alexa must function without internet.
“We had to create with Amazon a version of Alexa that could operate on the far side of the moon without connection to the internet, which is how, here on Earth, the Alexa devices normally operate,” Chambers said.
Chambers explained Tuesday afternoon on a NASA teleconference that the voice-activated system would eventually control some of the basic functions of the Orion spacecraft.
For now, on the Artemis I moon mission, it’s only hooked up to the lights.
“They have access to the telemetry stream within Orion, and we’ll be able to query the state of the spacecraft and status and also provide some very simplified commands that can control the lights in the cabin,” Chambers said. “And that’s to be controlled so that we have no impact on the mission. But it allows us to test out those command interfaces.”
The rollout of the Artemis I rocket is scheduled for 9 p.m. Tuesday, which will be streamed here on ClickOrlando.
Get today’s headlines in minutes with Your Florida Daily: