Saturday, August 13, 2022

As Artemis/SLS Prepares to Roll Out

According to the official mission blog site, NASA's Artemis/SLS system is in the final stages of preparation to roll out to pad 39B for what everyone hopes will be the last time with launch No Later Than September 5th.  The rollout will begin Wednesday evening EDT, targeted at 6PM, so that the vehicle should be on launch pad by daybreak Thursday. This week, teams began the second part of the flight termination system (FTS) test.  For safety purposes, anything that launches with enough fuel and power to make orbit is required by Space Force Delta 45 to carry an FTS so that it can be destroyed if it gets too far from its predetermined trajectory. 

The first part of the test was conducted earlier this year prior to the wet dress rehearsal and Space Force has a limit on the number of days the FTS can sit out on the pad without being tested again.  

In order to meet the Aug. 29 launch attempt and backup attempts on Sept. 2 and 5, NASA has received an extension from the Space Launch Delta 45 on the validation of the FTS from 20 to 25 days before the system would need to be retested. The waiver will be valid throughout the Artemis I launch attempts.

NASA has previously posted three target launch windows:

  • Aug. 29 at 8:33 a.m. EDT (Two-hour launch window); Landing Oct. 10 
  • Sept. 2 at 12:48 p.m. (Two-hour launch window); Landing Oct. 11 
  • Sept. 5 at 5:12 p.m. (90-minute launch window); Landing Oct. 17 

As a reminder, this is a test mission that will not be carrying a crew.  It will launch from Pad 39B and fly by the moon on a six week mission, testing all flight hardware before a crew rides it.  Expected landing dates are listed with launch dates. The first crewed mission of Artemis is currently projected to be early 2024. 

An interesting aspect that I haven't come across before is that the mission will be carrying three mannequins for different purposes.  One of them, given the name Moonikin Campos, in tribute to the electrical power systems manager back on the Apollo 13 mission, Arturo Campos. 

The Moonikin is a male-bodied manikin previously used in Orion vibration tests. Campos will occupy the commander’s seat inside and wear an Orion Crew Survival System suit– the same spacesuit that Artemis astronauts will use during launch, entry, and other dynamic phases of their missions.

Campos will be equipped with two radiation sensors and have additional sensors under its headrest and behind its seat to record acceleration and vibration data throughout the mission. Data from the Moonikin’s experience will help NASA protect astronauts during Artemis II, the first mission in more than 50 years that will send crew around the Moon.

A least they didn't call it Mannequin Skywalker.  

The other two female-bodied mannequins are part of a dedicated radiation exposure test. 

The Matroshka AstroRad Radiation Experiment torsos, Helga and Zohar, outfitted with sensors to measure radiation levels future crew will be exposed to, have joined Commander Campos and are now installed inside the Orion spacecraft. The final payloads, including the agency’s Biology Experiment-1, will be installed once the rocket and spacecraft are at the pad for launch.

I was tempted to say that the reason for two female to one male mannequins was because of the Artemis mission statement to "land the first woman and the next man" on the moon.  While it could be, if I was running that experiment to measure radiation on two mannequins I'd do my best to ensure those two were as identical as can be made.  As close to exactly the same size, weight and all other measurements as we can get.  It's hard enough to run a controlled experiment with only two experimental subjects, with inevitable differences in their positions in the Orion capsule, how thick barriers are to the outside and everything else.  

Two manikins are installed in the passenger seats inside the Artemis I Orion crew module atop the Space Launch System rocket in High Bay 3 of the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Aug. 8, 2022. As part of the Matroshka AstroRad Radiation Experiment (MARE) investigation, the two female manikins – Helga and Zohar – are equipped with radiation detectors, while Zohar also wears a radiation protection vest, to determine the radiation risk on its way to the Moon.  Photo credit: NASA/Frank Michaux. 

Clearly Helga is closer to the camera while Zohar, in the radiation protection vest, is in the background. 



  1. "The Moonikin is a male-bodied manikin previously used in Orion vibration tests."
    The LGBTQFJB community will be outraged that NASA assumed the gender of an inanimate object shaped like a human....or something like that.
    The word MANikin must be deleted as well.

  2. Meanwhile, SpaceX is suddenly ramping up the testing and fabrication and all the other things as they seem to be racing to launch Starship/Booster before or just after Artemis.

    Going to be interesting if the inevitable delays hit NASA, and if SpaceX can power-through and git-r-done. Be a real race to see who launches first and who launches successfully.

    Still waiting on SpaceX to show us some Crew-Starship physical mockups or test articles.

    1. Whichever launches first will be "the most powerful rocket ever launched!!!". If it's SLS, they'll hold that title for a few weeks. If Starship, they'll hold it for the foreseeable future.

  3. Sorry for the previous snark. Had a couple of vodka and tonics so I was feeling...well...rather snarky. I blame those sneaky Russians

    1. It happens. Don't worry about it. Just stay sober for the launch...

    2. I thought it was a good line. There's so many jokes lying there about the mannequins (and it bothers me how NASA spelled it "mannikin") and "wimminikins" that I thought there'd be more jokes.

  4. That 'first woman' stuff should be scandalous. More genetic testing to decide who is allowed to do what. It's more democrat full-blown Nazism. Naziism. Nazi-ism.

    1. Not "Nazi-ism." Instead, COMMUNISM!

    2. Mark, there really isn't a whole lot of difference between the two.

    3. How to tell National Socialists from International Socialists.

      National Socialists - the lowliest Private has a snazzy-looking uniform, and they only get better.

      International Socialists - the highest General has a loose, lousy-made and looking uniform, and they only get worse. If they have a dress uniform it will look like something from a 3 Stooges or Marx Brothers comedy.

      So... real Italian fascists and actual German Nazis and Spanish Nationalists (Franco's followers) are actual National Socialists.

      All the rest, from Bolsheviks to Castroites to Venezueloids and Norks and ChiComs and BLMers and Antifa and and and all are International Socialists.

      Short of that, not much difference at all. Just socialists of one flavor or another. All are just variations of feudalism under the guise of socialism.

  5. its cute they are pretending this cash cow grift product isn't going to spontaniously deconstruct. Or maybe wander off uncontrolled into the solar system. Maybe SpaceX will find it on their way to Mars..

  6. Is it just me, but doesn't that capsule interior look like a back storage room at Costco in comparison to the nice clean lines of the Dragon?

    1. There are astronauts who say they like the retro style of the Orion and Starliner because all the switches and such are very tactile and easier to use vs the clean touchscreen and infinitely reconfigurable control panels of the Dragon.

      Musk and SpaceX went all-out to remove any edges or protusions that would stick out and get in the way of actually moving around.

      I understand the potential need for tactile feeling, but, geez, this IS the 21st Century. And infinitely configurable and non-pretrusions sounds so much better for any future space klutzes.

  7. Looks a bit roomier than the Dragon capsule.

    The 9/5 date is the final launch opportunity for the current Artemis launch period that runs from Aug 29th (
    The next launch period will allow launch from Sep 19 to Oct 4.

    1. Right, and important point. The way I read that part about the FTS tests, if they don't launch by the 5th, they need to roll back the system to the VAB to re-do the tests. I didn't read anything that said they could do them out on the pad.

      I published an excerpt from full Artemis "Mission Availability" schedule back in May but might not have been clear enough that it was just that - an excerpt for August/September. The full schedule is a pdf at NASA. I should post a jpeg of that, too.

    2. The Orion has a pressurized volume of around 690 cu ft, but habitable volume is 316 cu ft. Dragon has 328 cu ft of useable space.

      Big difference is all the panels and the seats in Dragon can fold away, while most fixtures in Orion are hard-fixed like in the Apollo capsule.