Watch: NASA’s Orion Spacecraft Buzzes Moon Ahead Of Week-Long Orbit
NASA’s Artemis 1 uncrewed Orion capsule buzzed the Moon on Monday morning. The space agency said Orion passed 81 miles above the lunar surface, traveling at more than 5,100 mph while at a distance of more than 230,000 miles from Earth.
Orion autonomously fired its engines at 0744 ET for two-and-a-half minutes in the first of two maneuvers required to enter the distant retrograde orbit around the Moon. The spacecraft will perform a distant retrograde orbit insertion burn on Friday, allowing it to stay in orbit for about a week to test spacecraft systems.
The close approach was captured on Orion’s cameras and relayed on NASA TV.
As #Orion makes its closest lunar approach today, 53 years ago the Apollo 12 astronauts were in lunar orbit preparing to head back home! The Yankee Clipper command module performed a trans-Earth injection, leaving lunar orbit #OTD at 3:49 pm ET.
— NASA History Office (@NASAhistory) November 21, 2022
Here’s the video of the spacecraft performing its first lunar flyby.
LIVE NOW: The @NASA_Orion spacecraft is performing its first powered lunar flyby.
— NASA (@NASA) November 21, 2022
The capsule’s cameras also sent back a picture of tiny Earth.
“Our pale blue dot and its 8 billion human inhabitants now coming into view,” said Mission Control commentator Sandra Jones.
Fly-by complete!@NASA_Orion completed its closest fly-by of the Moon this morning, 81 miles above the lunar surface, traveling 5,102 mph. Before the fly-by, we conducted an outbound powered fly-by burn, increasing speed at a rate of more than 580 mph: https://t.co/gqViM3BJLg pic.twitter.com/9IUkQUj4pf
— Jim Free (@JimFree) November 21, 2022
“This is one of those days that you’ve been thinking about and talking about for a long, long time,” flight director Zeb Scoville said.
The Artemis I mission launched last Wednesday morning. This is all part of the space agency’s goal for a crewed mission around the Moon in 2024, with an eventual return of humans back to the lunar surface in 2025. But for all this to happen, Orion needs to splash down off the coast of San Diego on Dec. 11 to complete the 25-day mission.
Mon, 11/21/2022 – 15:40