NASA’s first mission as part of humanity’s return to the Moon is set to take a range of odd and unusual passengers up into space – including Lego people and Shaun the Sheep.
The mission, which will last 42 days and cover a distance of 1.3 million miles, is the first in a line of missions designed to help humanity set up a presence on the moon.
Artemis I’s job is to test the Orion system in space including its reentry capability into Earth’s atmosphere.
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On the historic flight which will take off from Kennedy Space Centre in Florida will be a series of items with both research-based and symbolic reasons for being onboard.
It will travel beyond the moon, carrying with it a number of mementoes in keeping with tradition from NASA missions of the past.
Knick knacks and important artefacts will be on board. One of these is is a metal bolt that was part of the Apollo 11 mission. It was also on board the final Space Shuttle flight and is intended to mark “the significance of the return of a spacecraft built for humans to the Moon.”
The bolt is being lent by the National Air and Space Museum, which is also putting an Apollo 8 commemorative medallion and an Apollo 11 mission patch in the flight kit being sent up.
While these items have historic and symbolic value, other items are a little more surprising.
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In collaboration with Girl Scouts of the USA, Artemis I will have on board Scouts’ science badges.
There will also be four Lego mini figures on board in an effort to inspire children to get involved in the sciences.
From the European Space Agency (ESA) will be one particularly famous face – Shaun the Sheep from the beloved Wallace and Gromit.
Wallace and Gromit was broadcast to 180 countries and has a long-running relationship with the ESA with Shaun having flown on missions before.
A number of different tree seeds are also being sent up and are due to be dished out to educational organisations after the mission returns to Earth.
Other oddities include a pen nib from the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center in Santa Rosa, California.
Schulz is the designer of the famous cartoon dog Snoopy, who was once drawn sitting on the Moon. The nib is going to be wrapped in a comic strip themed on space.
A figure of the Greek goddess Artemis, who the mission is named after, will also be on the rocket.
A pebble from the shore of the Dead Sea has been donated by The Israel Space Agency and a number of flags and patches will also be on board.
The Artemis I launch has been given a two-hour window from 1.33pm BST on August 29.
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