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Pebble from dead sea, pen’s nib, 3D-printed goddess: Things flying to Moon on Artemis-1 today

With the green signal from Nasa for final prep to launch the Artemis-1 mission today, the science community is geared up for the next big moment in space exploration — return to the Moon. The Space Launch System will lift off from Launch Pad 39B, Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 6:00 PM IST.

While no humans are launching onboard the maiden flight, which is aimed at testing and verifying the systems for returning to the Moon, Nasa is sending artifacts, mementos, and 3D-printed replica, among other things, to 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 maiden mission to begin the process of sending humans back to the Moon in the near future, decades after the Apollo missions ended. The American space agency has had a long tradition of sending Earthly things into space, from the golden record of Earth sounds 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 significance of Earth’s return to its natural satellite. An Apollo 8 commemorative medallion will also make the trip 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 later be put on display in the Acropolis Museum in Greece once it returns. The Israeli Space Agency, on the other hand, is sending a pebble from the shore of the Dead Sea, the lowest dry land surface area on Earth.

While the German Space Agency is flying digitized versions of student visions of lunar exploration as part of a nationwide educational activity, the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center is sending a pen’s nib to the Moon’s orbit. The nib, used by Schulz himself, will be wrapped in a space-themed comic strip.

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

The Space Launch System will lift off from Kennedy’s Launch Pad 39B during a two-hour launch window that opens up at 6:00 pm IST. The world’s most powerful rocket will be on a 42-day-long journey going beyond the Moon and back.

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