When Apollo 13’s service module oxygen tank ruptured on April 13, 1970, it threw three astronauts into an extremely perilous situation as they floated some 200,000 miles from Earth. NASA abandoned the idea of landing the mission on the moon, instead focusing entirely on bringing the crew home safely. And they knew exactly who to call: a man named Arturo Campos.
Campos, the electrical power subsystem manager for Apollo 13, rushed out of his bed and into the Mission Evaluation Room at the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston (now called the Johnson Space Center).
He immediately got to work modifying the contingency plan he’d created in case this kind of scenario unfolded. After about 15 hours of strategizing, Campos and his team figured out how to divert enough power from the lunar module to the spacecraft’s emergency batteries. In the end, they got the three men back to Earth safely.
Without the heroic efforts and quick thinking of Campos and his colleagues, the mission would’ve likely ended in tragedy, according to NASA.
Arturo Campos Courtesy of the Campos family / NASA
For their work, President Richard Nixon awarded Campos and other mission staffers the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1970. And as NASA prepares to make its historic return to the moon with the now-postponed Artemis 1 mission, the space agency is honoring the late Campos in yet another way: by naming a mannequin after him.
And it’s not just any mannequin, either. This humanoid figure, officially called “Commander Moonikin Campos,” will provide NASA with valuable information about the conditions that human astronauts may experience when they orbit the moon on Artemis 2, a mission currently slated for 2024. Overall, the Artemis program aims to establish a long-term presence on and around the moon, meant to one day support sending astronauts to Mars.