A manikin headed to the moon as part of NASA’s Artemis 1 mission later this year has a new name. Say hello to “Commander Moonikin Campos.”
The name, chosen via public vote, honors Arturo Campos, an electrical engineer who helped bring Apollo 13 safely back to Earth after a service module oxygen tank aboard the spacecraft ruptured, putting astronauts Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert and Fred Haise in peril. Campos was one of the few Mexican-American employees at Johnson Space Center (formerly NASA’s Manned Spacecraft Center) when most employees there were white. Colleagues remember Campos as being extremely proud of his heritage.
NASA announced its Name the Artemis Moonikin Challenge earlier this month to find the right moniker for the male-shaped manikin, or “moonikin.” The dummy will launch as part of the agency’s uncrewed flight test of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft.
Commander Moonikin Campos will occupy the commander’s seat aboard Orion wearing the same spacesuit Artemis astronauts will don during launch, entry and other phases of the mission. Sensors under the manikin’s headrest and behind its seat will record acceleration and vibration throughout the journey, delivering data on how the trip might impact a real human.
The name Commander Moonikin Campos emerged victorious from a bracket-style contest of titles honoring NASA people and programs, as well as astronomical objects. The final bracket came down to Campos and Delos, a reference to the island where Apollo and Artemis were born in Greek mythology.
Other top names under consideration included Ace, for “Artemis Crew Explorer,” and Montgomery, for Julius Montgomery, the first African American to work as a technical professional at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, now known as Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. The name Duhart would’ve paid tribute Irene Duhart Long, chief medical officer at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
NASA tallied more than 300,000 votes in all, cast on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Campos died in 2004 after leveraging his electrical engineering expertise in dozens of NASA projects. He also served as Johnson Space Center’s Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action Program representative and as a member of the employees’ Hispanic Heritage Program.
While the name Commander Moonikin Campos honors a key player in space history in a meaningful way, things don’t always go smoothly when the public gets into the nomenclature game. Who can forget when the internet was asked to name a British submersible polar research vessel and settled on the silly Boaty McBoatface?