Marlowe’s “Dr. Faustus,” Freedom, Censorship and Speculation

(left) portrait of a young man, maybe Christopher Marlowe, by an anonymous British artist. (1585); (right) John Taylor's (maybe) portrait of William Shakespeare. (1610) from Corpus Christi College, National Portrait Gallery; via Wikimedia Commons, used w/o permission.

Christopher Marlowe, William Shakespeare, Sir Francis Bacon and Queen Elizabeth I all lived in England during the late 1500s.

An odd lot of history and literature buffs have said that Marlowe, Bacon or someone else wrote Shakespeare’s plays. I suspect their roster overlaps the roll call of folks who seem convinced that the Queen, Sir Walter Raleigh or some other VIP had Marlowe killed.

My thoroughly tongue-in-cheek contribution to the weirdness was that Shakespeare was Marlowe’s ghostwriter, and had Marlowe killed. Or that Marlowe and Shakespeare were both really Queen Elizabeth I, who let off steam by masquerading as a playwright.1

Adding to the fun, or confusion, we don’t actually have Marlowe’s script for “Dr. Faustus.” What we’ve got is one version, published in 1604 and reprinted in 1609; and another printed in 1616.

My weekly posts often don’t go in quite the direction I had in mind at first. But this week’s took a longer-than-usual-detour.

You Have the Right to Write

Cover of 'The Cry and Revenge of Blood,' printed by Nicholas Okes for John Wright. (1620) from Folger Shakespeare Library/LUNA, via The Malone Society, used w/o permission.Intellectual property rights have changed since Marlowe’s day. So has censorship.

Playwrights like Shakespeare and Marlowe had the right to write scripts.

They could even, at least in principle, arrange for actors to rehearse their plays. But the plays couldn’t be performed until an official, the Master of Revels, gave the okay.

I suppose that a playwright could have hired a printer to mass-produce a script for the retail market: after getting permission to distribute the work.

But the playwright couldn’t legally keep anyone from copying, printing and selling the text — after the printer jumped through the required official hoops.

Anyway, Valentine Simmes printed a version of Marlowe’s “Doctor Faustus” in 1604 for Thomas Law. George Eld printed the same version for John Wright, bookseller, a few years later.

John Wright published another version in 1616, printed by Nicholas Okes. Maybe.

The 1616 version’s printer didn’t get credit. But three letters in the 1616 “Faustus” — an upper-case “B” and “M,” and a lower-case “n” — had the same damaged font that was in books we know were printed by Okes.

I figure either Okes printed the 1616 version, or someone else did — using the same equipment as Okes.2

On my side of the Atlantic, at least, “prior restraint” — having to get permission before publishing or sharing information — is a hard sell. I get the impression that folks in England also got fed up with needing permission to voice their opinions.

But Publishing May Require Permission

(From Harper’s Weekly, via Chicago History Museum and Wikimedia Commons, used w/o permission.)

Map of Internet censorship and surveillance by country (2018)Attempted prepublication censorship often triggers phrases like “freedom of the press.” Understandably.

But I get concerned when the free press gets overwhelmingly “free” in one direction or another; or as inflammatory as they say the bad guys are —

“The anarchists of Chicago inaugurated in earnest last night the reign of lawlessness which they have threatened and endeavored to incite for years. They threw a bomb into the midst of a line of 200 police officers, and it exploded with fearful effect….”
(Excerpt from page 2, The Inter Ocean, Chicago, Illinois, (May 5, 1886) via

Putting Chicago’s “bloody work” in perspective, folks at that 1886 rally were trying to get an eight-hour working day. At the time, that probably felt like anarchy to staunch defenders of the status quo.

By the time I was a teenager, in the 1960s, the eight-hour work day was something we’d ‘always had.’

Walt Kelly's Deacon Mushrat and Simple J. Malarky. (11953)Back then, I thought freedom of speech was a good idea. I still do.

But I thought freedom of speech didn’t mean “free to agree with me.” I still don’t.

‘The Establishment’ — and how we’re supposed to feel about it — has changed. Slightly.

I wasn’t on the same page as the powers that be in the 1960s. I’m still not. And I’m drifting off-topic.

Elizabethan England wasn’t just like today’s America, but it wasn’t all that different. New technology was letting folks share information: fast. Back then it was the printing press. Now it’s the Internet.

One more point, and I’ll get back to Marlowe, Faustus and all that.

I think we had a close call, several years back.

Self-identified defenders of the public interest were sounding a clarion call for what they called net neutrality. And, in order to protect us from ‘bad’ ideas, the Christian Coalition and Feminist Majority joined forces.

“Net neutrality” fizzled, along with a proposal that online content be reviewed by an impartial government agency. Before being posted.

That proposal has dropped off the radar entirely. The CC-FM teamup left only one reference I’ve found.3 And for that I’m grateful.

A-Text, B-Text, Names and Scholarly Opinions

Ken Eckert's photo of Huntingdon Library's ( 'Faustus' manuscript. (2008)Getting back, finally, to the 1604 and 1616 published versions of Marlowe’s “Doctor Faustus — at some point, I don’t know when, scholars started calling the version printed in 1604 the A-text, and the 1616 version the B-text.

The B-text was probably compiled in 1602, two years before the A-text was printed. Marlowe died in 1593, after “Doctor Faustus” opened, which was in 1588: give or take a few years.4

And aren’t you glad all these names and dates won’t be on a test?! 😉

Reconstruction? Patchwork? Foul Papers??

Frontpiece from a 1620 printing of 'Doctor Faustus,' showing Faustus conjuring Mephistophilis.Academic opinion on whether the A-text or B-text is closer to Marlowe’s original script depends on who’s talking.

The A-text is, I gather, a tad short for an Elizabethan drama; running just shy of 1,500 lines.

But it was the earliest published version, so many scholars figured it was closer to the original play as it had been performed.

Makes sense, but by 1940 academics began agreeing with researchers who said that the B-text was closer to Marlowe’s script. Again, that makes sense, since it’s closer to a typical Elizabethan play’s length.

And now opinion’s swinging back to seeing the A-text as a better reconstruction of Marlowe’s work; and thinking that there wasn’t much ‘Marlowe’ in the B-text after all —

“…They demonstrated that A was a typical ‘bad quarto’, based on actors’ reconstruction rather than on authorial copy, and argued that B was superior because based in part on MS copy derived from Marlowe’s own ‘foul papers’. Recently, however, the counter-argument has been gaining sway: that much of the material unique to B has no link to Marlowe at all, but is the patchworking of lesser writers like Rowley and Birde. A is an abbreviated and corrupted version, but this is preferable to a significantly altered one…..”
‘Faustus’ and the Politics of Magic,” Charles Nicholl, London Review of Books (March 8, 1990)

In this context, “foul papers” isn’t a judgment of a document’s condition. It’s what scholars call an author’s original drafts, or last complete draft, or any draft of a document. Which definition’s in play depends on which scholar you ask.5

It’s my considered opinion that someone, probably several someones, reconstructed Marlowe’s script for both the A-text and B-text. Also that the B-text is roughly a third longer than the A-text, and that some lines appearing in both aren’t quite the same.

“WAGNER. Alas, poor slave! see how poverty jesteth in his nakedness!
the villain is bare and out of service, and so hungry, that I know
he would give his soul to the devil for a shoulder of mutton,
though it were blood-raw.
“CLOWN. How! my soul to the devil for a shoulder of mutton, though
’twere blood-raw! not so, good friend: by’r lady, I had need
have it well roasted, and good sauce to it, if I pay so dear.”
(“The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus,” Christopher Marlowe (1604) Edited by The Rev. Alexander Dyce)

“WAGNER. Alas, poor slave! see how poverty jests in his nakedness!
I know the villain’s out of service, and so hungry, that I know
he would give his soul to the devil for a shoulder of mutton,
though it were blood-raw.
“CLOWN. Not so neither: I had need to have it well roasted, and
good sauce to it, if I pay so dear, I can tell you.”
(“The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus,” Christopher Marlowe (1616) Edited by The Rev. Alexander Dyce)

But which version more nearly reflects the Marlowe’s blood and thunder blockbuster?

That, I don’t know; although I’m using the B-text for my ‘Faustus’ series. Mainly because it’s longer, and therefore gives me more material to work with. Make that ‘I’m mostly using the B-text,’ as edited by the Rev. Alexander Dyce in the 19th century.

Baliol, Banio and Belcher: Not an Elizabethan Law Firm

Orson Welles' costume design for Clown in Dr. Faustus, performed in the Maxine Elliott Theatre, New York. (1937)I’ve read that one of the differences between the 1604 and 1616 editions is the summoned devil’s name.

It’s (usually) Mephistopheles in 1604 and Mephostophilis in 1616.

Besides having more material, here’s another reason I’m using the 1616 edition: the one edited by Alexander Dyce.

It’s available on At no cost. That puts it inside my budget.

However, comparing Dyce’s versions of the “Doctor Faustus” 1604 and 1616 editions, I learned that Dyce had been a trifle creative in at least one spot.

He changed Mephistopheles to Mephostophilis in his annotated reprint of the 1604 edition, apparently assuming that the 1616 version was more nearly correct.

On the other hand, he’s got Robin and Ralph as the characters listed after Wagner in his 1604 version, but Robin and Dick in 1616. His devils for 1604 are Baliol and Belcher; while in the “Faustus” 1616 they’re Banio and Belcher. Why? I don’t know.

Maybe because in Dyce’s 1604 Faustus, Clown gets Baliol’s name wrong.

“WAGNER. How!—Baliol and Belcher!
“CLOWN. O Lord! I pray, sir, let Banio and Belcher go sleep.”
(“The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus,” Christopher Marlowe (1604) Edited by The Rev. Alexander Dyce)

As a devil’s name, “Baliol” may have been worth a few laughs in Marlowe’s day. It was (and is) the name of an Oxford college, and had been the name of a British noble house.

Be that as it may, Clown gets a few extra lines in Dyce’s version of Simmes’ 1604 version —

“CLOWN. Let your Baliol and your Belcher come here, and I’ll
knock them, they were never so knocked since they were devils:
say I should kill one of them, what would folks say? ‘Do ye see
yonder tall fellow in the round slop? he has killed the devil.’
So I should be called Kill-devil all the parish over.”
(“The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus,” Christopher Marlowe (1604) Edited by The Rev. Alexander Dyce)

— why? Again, I don’t know.

Maybe a thorough analysis of Clown and Wagner in Marlowe’s “Doctor Faustus” would be worth the time and effort.

But I suspect they’re both basically comedy relief in Marlowe’s play.

And that whatever profundity’s in either character comes from their origin in the mind of a brilliant scholar and alleged troublemaker who’s nearly as legendary as the alleged German magician and con man behind the Faust legend.6

Down the Rabbit Hole With “Doctor Faustus” and “Judge Dredd”

John Wagner, Carlos Ezquerra, Michael De Luca's 'Judge Dredd,' played by Sylvester Stalone. (1995)
(From Hollywood Pictures, Cinergi Pictures, Edward R. Pressman Film Corporation; via, used w/o permission.)
(Judge Dredd, the first film version. (1995))

John Tenniel's 'The White Rabbit' from 'Lewis Carroll's 'The Nursery Alice.' (1890) from the British Library, via WikipediaI’ve found no shortage of rabbit holes while reading Marlowe’s “Doctor Faustus.”

That’s partly because “The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus” — that’s a mouthful, small wonder most folks just say “Doctor Faustus” these days — impressed folks in Elizabethan England.

The Admiral’s Men staged “Dr. Faustus” 24 times between October 1594 and October 1597, and Philip Henslowe may have rebooted the tale in 1602.

Three decades later, “Dr. Faustus” was still famous enough to warrant attention by William Prynne, a prominent Puritan polemicist and unswerving opponent of decadent customs.

Like celebrating Christmas.

Seems that, according to Prynne, fires at the Globe and Fortune theaters had been of demonic origin. Or maybe due to the wrath of God.

At any rate, William Prynne declared that some folks went crazy when the “Devill” made a personal appearance at the Belsavage Play-house during a “Dr. Faustus” performance.

“…O tragicall, O fearefull death! answerable to her former wicked life? Not to relate the various tragicall ends of many, who in my remembrance at London, have beene slaine in Play-houses, or upon quarrels there commenced: Nor yet to recite the sudden fearefull burning even to the ground, both of the Globe and Fortune Play-houses, no man perceiving how these fires came: together with the visible apparition of the Devill on the Stage at the Belsavage Play-house, in Queene Elizabeths dayes, (to the great amazement both of the Actors and Spectators) whiles they were there prophanely playing the History of Faustus (the truth of which I have heard from many now alive, who well remember it,) there being some distracted with that fearefull sight….”
(“Histrio-mastix The players scourge, or, actors tragædie, divided into two parts…,” page 556, William Prynne, (1632) via University of Michigan Library Digital Collections

Faustian responses like William Prynne’s “Histrio-mastix…” may explain why some academics present Marlowe’s “Dr. Faustus” as a reflection of Christian beliefs. And that’s another topic.

I’ll grant that “Dr. Faustus” reflected how audiences in Elizabethan London felt about Christianity, politics and social class. And that we can speculate about Marlowe’s play, based on the two versions of the script we have.7

But reading scholarly discussions of “Dr. Faustus” and Elizabethan England started me thinking about how our era might look, seen through the eyes of academics in the mid-25th century.

Periodization and Impractical-But-Fun Speculation

John Wagner, Carlos Ezquerra, Michael De Luca's 'Judge Dredd;' Diane Lane as Judge Hershey. (1995)
(From Hollywood Pictures, Cinergi Pictures, Edward R. Pressman Film Corporation; via, used w/o permission.)
(Judge Hershey in “Judge Dredd,” the first film version. (1995))

Who knows? Maybe we’ll have debates over whether Judge Dredd (1995) accurately depicts John Wagner’s “Judge Dredd” visual drama, or Dredd (2012) is the authoritative source for Dredd lore.

Particularly if many of the original Judge Dredd manuscripts and the comics they appear in get lost during the next four and a half centuries.

Maybe the surviving portions of the “Judge Dredd” cycle will be seen as a valuable resource for serious students of our era’s social and judicial beliefs.

Another bit of impractical, possibly futile, but fun speculation is what historians of the year 2450 might call the period we’re living in.

We’ve been calling it the Information Age. Maybe that name will stick. Or maybe from a 25th century perspective, this is the Federal Era. Or the Liminal Age, or something completely different.

Historians looking back at days gone by have their own ideas about periodization, which makes guessing what they’ll be thinking tricky. At best.

Periodization in a ‘history’ context is a five-dollar word for dividing our yesteryears into neatly-labeled blocks of time.

It makes sense, since dividing time into labeled packets makes talking about particular eras easier.8 But I think it can give an impression that humanity’s continuing story has tidy chapter breaks.

That’s not how I see history. Although I agree that, for example, things changed when the Roman Empire transitioned from a current reality to a rose-colored memory.

To be Continued: Wagner, Clown and Elizabethan Rudeness

Brian H. Gill's 'Internet Friends.' (2017)I think the “Information Age” moniker might makes sense as a label for our times.

I’ve seen some perceptions and attitudes change as we started communicating online, while others got fresh labels and a coat of paint. And that’s yet another topic.

But we’re still dealing with aspects of the pre-Internet America I grew up in. And, for that matter, with issues that were in play in Elizabethan England.

I’m pretty sure I haven’t finished talking about Wagner, Clown and how to be rude in Elizabethan English.

And I’ve definitely got more to say about freedom of expression and censorship. But that will wait for another day.

Meanwhile, here are the usual links to more-or-less-related stuff.

1 History, people, and a side of bacon:

2 Intellectual property rights, Elizabethan era economics:

3 History, and not missing the ‘good old days:’

4 Labeling Marlowe’s famous play:

5 Document details:

6 Lore and legends:

7 An assorted miscellany:

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Elizabeth II of England: April 21, 1926 – September 8, 2022

Queen Elizabeth II of England

Elizabeth Alexandra Mary became Elizabeth II of England 70 years ago.

She died this afternoon.

Queen Elizabeth II has died
BBC News (September 8, 2022)

“Queen Elizabeth II, the UK’s longest-serving monarch, has died at Balmoral aged 96, after reigning for 70 years.

“She died peacefully on Thursday afternoon at her Scottish estate, where she had spent much of the summer.

“The Queen came to the throne in 1952 and witnessed enormous social change….”

There will be no shortage, I’m sure, of pieces written about Elizabeth II.

But I’ll just say that I think she is and will be missed, and go back to what I had been getting ready for this week.

Although the death of Elizabeth II is ‘current events,’ I’ve applied the history tag to this post. That makes sense to me. I’ve talked about history and how I see it fairly often, including this stuff:

Posted in Discursive Detours | Tagged | 2 Comments

Back to the Moon, Onward to Mars: Artemis I

NASA's infographic: 'Artemis I Map' (2018)

Nobody’s in the Artemis I Mission’s Orion capsule.

But if today’s test flight goes well, Artemis II will carry four folks around the Moon before returning to Earth. And Artemis III will bring humans to the Moon’s surface for the first time since 1972.

Update September 5, 2022

Updating my September 3, 2022 update; NASA posted another update, detailing issues the Artemis I team found. Looks like the earliest possible launch date now is September 19.

As I said yesterday, a ‘better safe than sorry’ approach makes sense for this test flight.

And, since these updates are taking up considerable room, putting a link to “I’ll be taking a look at where we’ve been….” which introduced links to this week’s post sections. Happily, what I had ready for this week didn’t depend on the moon rocket taking off on schedule.

Times listed for the NASA update is EDT.

NASA to Stand Down on Artemis I Launch Attempts in Early September, Reviewing Options
Rachel Kraft, Artemis, NASA (September 3, 2022; 6:26 p.m.)
“After standing down on today’s Artemis I launch attempt when engineers could not overcome a hydrogen leak in a quick disconnect, an interface between the liquid hydrogen fuel feed line and the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, mission managers met and decided they will forego additional launch attempts in early September.
“Over the next several days, teams will establish access to the area of the leak at Launch Pad 39B, and in parallel conduct a schedule assessment to provide additional data that will inform a decision on whether to perform work to replace a seal either at the pad, where it can be tested under cryogenic conditions, or inside the Vehicle Assembly Building….”

Update September 3, 2022

Today’s Artemis I test flight has been called off.

Seems that the weather at the Kennedy Space Center was okay, but a seal for one of the fuel tanks wasn’t.

I’m a little frustrated, and slightly disappointed; but not surprised. The Space Launch System is a very complex system. And expensive. I don’t mind that NASA is taking a ‘better safe than sorry’ approach.

Here are the most recent (It’s 11:10 a.m. here in Minnesota, 12:10 p.m. in Florida) Artemis I updates I’ve seen:

Times listed for the NASA updates are EDT.

NASA to Stand Down on Artemis I Launch Attempts in Early September, Reviewing Options
Rachel Kraft, Artemis, NASA (September 3, 2022; 6:26 p.m.)
“After standing down on today’s Artemis I launch attempt when engineers could not overcome a hydrogen leak in a quick disconnect, an interface between the liquid hydrogen fuel feed line and the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, mission managers met and decided they will forego additional launch attempts in early September.
“Over the next several days, teams will establish access to the area of the leak at Launch Pad 39B, and in parallel conduct a schedule assessment to provide additional data that will inform a decision on whether to perform work to replace a seal either at the pad, where it can be tested under cryogenic conditions, or inside the Vehicle Assembly Building….”

Artemis I Launch Attempt Scrubbed
Rachel Kraft, Artemis, NASA (September 3, 2022; 11:22 am)

“The launch director waived off today’s Artemis I launch attempt at approximately 11:17 a.m. EDT. Teams encountered a liquid hydrogen leak while loading the propellant into the core stage of the Space Launch System rocket. Multiple troubleshooting efforts to address the area of the leak by reseating a seal in the quick disconnect where liquid hydrogen is fed into the rocket did not fix the issue. Engineers are continuing to gather additional data.”

Liquid Hydrogen Leak Detected Once Again
Rachel Kraft, Artemis, NASA (September 3, 2022; 10:28 a.m.)

“After the third troubleshooting attempt, the liquid hydrogen leak has occurred again. Teams are discussing next steps.”

Liquid Hydrogen Flows Again to Core Stage Tank
Rachel Kraft, Artemis, NASA (September 3, 2022; 10:18 a.m.)

“After warming up the area of the liquid hydrogen leak, engineers are once again flowing liquid hydrogen to the core stage.”

I’ll be taking a look at where we’ve been, and why ‘phantom’ torsos are riding along with Commander Moonikin Campos.

I’ll also be watching NASA TV’s coverage. 😀

Launch coverage begins at 12:15 p.m. EDT, 4:15 p.m. UTC, September 3, 2022:

Looking Back, and Ahead

Collage: Apollo 11, Tranquility Base; people around the world watched humanity's first walk on another world. (July 1969)

Thomas Voter's cover for Robert A. Heinlein's 'Rocket Ship Galileo,' Scribner's first edition. (May 1, 1947) Thomas Voter/Scribner, via Wikipedia, used w/o permission.I remember when going to Earth’s moon was becoming less science fiction and more political issue.

The Apollo program’s moon landings were among the most exciting events of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Although levels of excitement varied considerably.

For example, I didn’t see Apollo 13 commander Jim Lovell’s broadcast on the mission’s third day.

This was 1970, when news wasn’t news unless at least one of the television networks decided it was news. Or The New York Times decided it was fit to print, and that’s another topic.

Lovell’s April 13, 1970, broadcast was live in Mission Control. Period. I’ve been told that ‘the public grew apathetic’ about the Apollo program. Maybe so.

At any rate, Apollo 13 wasn’t news until a few minutes after that broadcast ended. That’s when a routine stirring of the service module’s number two oxygen tank started a fire which in turn made the tank explode.

That was news. So was the safe return of Apollo 13, and so were moments of the remaining four Apollo missions.

Then, in December of 1972, Harrison Schmitt — the first geologist on the moon — and Gene Cernan packed their gear, rejoined Ronald Evans in the orbiting command module, and returned home.

No human has visited Earth’s moon since.

On the other hand, we’ve hardly forgotten the place.

Robots, from Luna 21 and its Lunokhod 2 rover to the Chang’e 5 mission’s lander and rover, have been swarming on and around the Moon. And the last I heard, scientists are still studying stuff we brought back a half-century ago.1

So, why bother returning to the Moon?

The Moon, Mars, Motives and Being Human

NASA/Clouds AO/SEArch's illustration: An artist's rendering of the Mars Ice Home concept. 'NASA Langley’s Icy Concept for Living on the Red Planet.' (December 29, 2016)Economic motives may be in the mix; although humanity isn’t in desperate need of Element X, vital to maintenance of our atomic pogo sticks, and obtainable only on the Moon.

I’m pretty sure that there’s a political angle to the Artemis program, but I’m also pretty sure that we’re going back because we need a maintenance and refueling base near the Moon’s south pole.2

We need that outpost because we’ll be sending folks to Mars soon.

And we’ll be sending folks to Mars because — well, I think we’re going because we were human in the 1960s, and we still are.

In a sense, the first step of our journey to the Moon, Mars and beyond began when someone decided to see what’s over the next hill.

Now, uncounted generations later, “the next hill” is on other worlds.

I don’t see this as a problem.

Wondering what’s over the next hill, metaphorically at least, and curiosity in general, can be a problem. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2115-2116)

But it’s also part of being human.

And — I’ve said this before, often — paying attention to the wonders in this universe is a good idea.

We’re surrounded by beauty and wonders. Studying the created world’s order and harmony can help us better understand and appreciate God. Faith and reason, science and religion, get along fine; or should. That said, ‘it’s for science’ doesn’t make overly-risky experiments with humans okay. (Catechism, 32, 39, 283, 341, 2292-2295)

I don’t think exploring this universe will make any of us more — or less — likely to acknowledge God’s work and our nature.

But I don’t see a problem with getting a closer look at what’s beyond the next hill. Or being human.

“What are humans that you are mindful of them, mere mortals that you care for them?
“Yet you have made them little less than a god, crowned them with glory and honor.”
(Psalms 8:56)

“Terrible and awesome are you,
stronger than the ancient mountains.”
(Psalms 76:5)

“Yours are the heavens, yours the earth;
you founded the world and everything in it.”
(Psalms 89:12)

“Indeed, before you the whole universe is like a grain from a balance,
or a drop of morning dew come down upon the earth.”
(Wisdom 11:22)

Radiation and Changing Attitudes

StemRad/NASA's photo: Helga and Zohar, 'phantom' torsos equipped with radiation sensors, stand-ins for Orion's crew for the Artemis I mission.
(From StemRad, via NASA, used w/o permission.)
(Artemis I ‘phantom’ torsos Helga and Zohar, testing radiation exposure.)

Posters produced at Oak Ridge National Laboratory: 'Radiation Need Not be Feared / But it Must Command Your Respect / Health Physics For Your Protection' (1947)My father told me that when he and his buddies were boys, they’d get free roller coaster rides at an amusement park. Until his mother learned what was happening.

My guess is that regulations back then made roller coaster operators test the rides at regular intervals, with weights simulating paying customers.

The tests could be done with sandbags, but a bunch of Irish kids would give more realistic results. And if something went wrong, well: Irish kids were less disposable than sandbags, but maybe not by much.

At any rate, my paternal grandmother put an end to my father’s free rides, ‘Irish Need Not Apply’ notices are a thing of the past, I don’t miss ‘the good old days,’ and that’s yet another topic.

More to the point, the Civil Aeronautics Administration’s Oscar and Elmer test dummies have been replaced by Hybrid III — and the ‘crew’ of Artemis I: Commander Moonikin Campos, Helga and Zohar.

Moonikin Campos, sitting in the commander’s seat, carries two radiation sensors and is wearing a first-generation Orion Crew Survival System suit. His seat has been outfitted with two acceleration and vibration sensors.

Helga and Zohar — Helga’s wearing an AstroRad radiation vest, Zohar isn’t — are part of the Matroshka AstroRad Radiation Experiment, or MARE. Each ‘phantom’ torso holds a three-centimeter sensor grid, embedded in material that acts like bone and soft tissue.3

Ionizing Radiation: New Science, Old Hazard

Black body radiation curve, Astronomy Education at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.That’s important, because Artemis missions will spend much more time around and on the Moon than the Apollo voyages.

Most of the Artemis I not-quite-38-day mission, for example, will be spend outside Earth’s Van Allen radiation belt.

We don’t have much information on long-term exposure to the sort of ionizing radiation the Orion capsule and virtual crew will experience. And even less on how it may affect women.

Backing up a bit: ionizing radiation is what we call electromagnetic radiation or subatomic particles carrying enough energy to knock electrons off atoms or molecules.

Radiobiology, medical science studying ionizing radiation, is a fairly new field. But we’ve been dealing with ionizing radiation since day one. High-end ultraviolet light is what makes sunburn a real health hazard.

And, starting in the early 20th century, some folks began panicking when “radiation” was mentioned. And that’s yet again another topic.4

Societal Summary, 1959-2022

Collage, pulp science fiction magazine covers.

Illustration by anonymous artist, iStock image, for 'How do you stop astronauts going mad?' Paul Marks, BBC Future (February 10, 2017)Not all pulp science fiction featured marauding Martian mechanical men and space aliens committing grand theft skyscraper, but the genre’s more colorful authors may have had undue influence on experts.

Space madness: the dreaded disease that never was
Matthew H.Hersch, Endeavour (March 2012) via ScienceDirect

“…psychiatrists working with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in 1959 feared the worst of the men selected to be America’s first astronauts: that they would be impulsive, suicidal, sexually aberrant thrill-seekers. The examiners, though, were surprised — and a little disappointed — when tests revealed the would-be spacemen to be sane, poised professionals able to absorb extraordinary stresses….”

Since then, we’ve learned that astronauts are human: and are neither particularly prone to insanity nor likely to exhibit the emotional range of a stuffed frog.

We’ve learned that civilians can work in space without going bonkers, and — extending my societal summary beyond the space program — that women are people.

Most of us, that is.

I gather that a few wunderkinds are still astonished and incredulous when presented with a woman who acts as if “she’s smart as a man” isn’t a compliment. That may be why discussions of differences between men and women occasionally get weird.

On the ‘up’ side, it’s been decades since I’ve been told that there’s no difference between men and women. Which almost makes sense, since the tallest woman is taller than the shortest man; and some men aren’t as strong as the strongest woman.

Granted, humans aren’t like mandrills and gorillas — where males weigh, on average, twice as much as females.

But men and women aren’t indistinguishable. And the half of humanity that’s playing with a full deck, genetically speaking, is a bit more sensitive to ionizing radiation.

Which I see as a good reason for sending Helga and Zohar along on the Artemis I mission.

Data from their sensors, plus the experiences of ISS staff who have been wearing a version of the AstroRad radiation vest, will help mission planners keep folks safe in deep space.5

Which I think is a good idea.

Commander Moonikin Campos and the Artemis I Crew

NASA's photo: crash-test dummies, outfitted with suits and sensors, secured in an Orion test article before being dropped into Langley Research Center's Hydro Impact Basin. (2016)
(From NASA, used w/o permission.)
(Manikins in an Orion capsule test at Langley Research Center. (2016))

Now, about choosing a name for Commander Moonikin Campos. NASA had a contest, giving folks a choice of eight names for the space-suited crash test dummy/manikin.

“…We want your help to select a name for the suited manikin, or Moonikin in this case, that will fly aboard Orion to help gather data before missions with astronauts!…”

“…This Moonikin is a male-bodied manikin previously used in Orion vibration tests. He will be accompanied on Artemis I by….”
(“Bracket Contest to Help NASA Name ‘Moonikin’ Flying on Artemis I Mission Around Moon,” (June 15, 2021))

They started with a selection of eight names. Or, rather, seven names and an acronym.

  • ACE, for “Artemis Crew Explorer.”
  • CAMPOS, a dedication to Arturo Campos, key player in bringing Apollo 13 home.
  • DUHART, a dedication to Irene Duhart Long, chief medical officer at Kennedy Space Center from 2000 to 2010.
  • MONTGOMERY, dedication to Julius Montgomery, first African American to work as a technical professional at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, now known as Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
  • RIGEL, a giant superstar in the Orion constellation.
  • SHACKLETON, a crater on the Moon’s South Pole, which is named after famous Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton.
  • WARGO, a dedication to Michael Wargo, NASA’s first chief exploration scientist.

More than 300,000 votes later, “Campos” was the winning name.

So Commander Moonikin Campos, Helga and Zohar will be leading humanity’s return to the Moon.

Assuming that the Saturday, September 3, 2022, Artemis I launch goes well. If it does, it’ll happen in the afternoon: after I’ve posted this.

I’m forgetting something. Right. Why the Monday launch was rescheduled.

One of the four RS-25 engines, number three, hadn’t been cooling off enough before Artemis I’s first launch attempt on Monday. That’s what the engine’s sensors said, at any rate.6 Taking a ‘better safe than sorry’ approach makes sense. To me, at any rate.

As for why for Moonikin Campos, “a male-bodied manikin,” is in the commander’s seat while Helga and Zohar are passengers: that’s still another topic, for another day.

A NASA Infographic and Assorted Links

NASA/Kevin O'Brien's infographic: 'The Space Launch System: NASA's Artemis I Moon Rocket' (2002)(From NASA/Kevin O’Brien, used w/o permission.)
(Artemis I Moon Rocket, from NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) Infographics.)

Humanity’s long journey to the stars isn’t my only interest. But it’s at least in my top 20:

1 A little history:

2 Dreamers, scientists and technicians:

3 Miscellanea:

4 Radiation, Artemis I and a phobia:

5 Science, sex and differences:

6 More miscellania:

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