October 23, 2021

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‘Moonikin’ flying on NASA’s Artemis 1 named for Apollo 13 engineer

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The public has voted to honor an Apollo 13 engineer on board NASA’s first mission to fly to the moon and back in more than 50 years.

More than 300,000 people participated in the online competitive bracket contest, which selected the official name for the manikin launching on NASA’s Artemis 1 mission. The winning name memorializes one of the figures whose contributions were key in bringing home the Apollo 13 crew after they “had a problem” on the way to the moon.

Robert Pearlman is a journalist and space historian.

His original “Ask An Astronaut” website preceded NASA’s efforts to connect the public with the men and women who have flown in space. Later, as the online program director for the National Space Society, Pearlman led the redesign and expansion of the organization’s online resources and website, including authoring the educational viewer’s guide for Tom Hanks’ award-winning HBO miniseries “From the Earth to the Moon.”

In 1997, Pearlman was recruited by Buzz Aldrin to develop the Apollo astronaut’s first website. And in 1999, Pearlman co-founded the astronaut-endorsed Starport.com, which subsequently was acquired by Space.com. Pearlman was then hired by Space.com to manage the site’s community projects.

Between 1998 and 2003, Pearlman was the on-air, online host for the National Space Day live webcast filmed at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.

In 1996, Pearlman was hired by space tourism firm Space Adventures as its first marketing and publicity director.

Today, Pearlman is the editor of collectSPACE.

Pearlman is a contributing writer for Space.com, serves on the leadership board for For All Moonkind, he is a member of the American Astronautical Society’s history committee, and serves as an advisor for The Mars Generation.

He is the co-author of “Space Stations: The Art, Science, and Reality of Working in Space,” published on Oct. 30, 2018 by Smithsonian Books.

He served as technical consultant on the 2013 movie “Space Warriors” with Mira Sorvino and Danny Glover and the 2018 Damien Chazelle film “First Man” with Ryan Gosling and Claire Foy. He served as historical consultant on the 2019 Todd Douglas Miller documentary “Apollo 11.”

Pearlman has also appeared as a commentator on:

  • Strange Inheritance (Fox Business Network)
  • American Restoration (History Channel)
  • American Pickers (History Channel)
  • Mysteries at the Museum (Travel Channel)
  • Brad Meltzer’s Lost History (H2)
  • Ancient Aliens (History Channel)
  • NASA’s Unexplained Files (Science Channel)

Pearlman previously served on the boards of the National Space Society and U.S. Space Walk of Fame Foundation. He is also a former national chair for the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space.

In 2001, his work on collectSPACE earned Pearlman the Collector of the Year Award from the Universal Autograph Collectors Club (UACC).

In 2009, Pearlman was inducted into the Space Camp Hall of Fame.



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