Artemis I Mission - NASA's Orion Capsule Travels Record Breaking Distance From Earth
NASA's Orion capsule travels record breaking distance from earth. On Monday, it left Earth's orbit by a distance of around 430,000 kilometers (270,000 miles), making history as the furthest any spaceship intended to transport people has ever traveled.
The spacecraft is now unmanned, but astronauts will be aboard the next mission in two years if the current one goes off without a hitch. As time goes on, Nasa intends to use Orion for more difficult missions.
They're a part of NASA's Artemis mission, which aims to put humans back on the moon's surface after a 50-year absence. The mission has reached its halfway point as of Monday.
This halfway point teaches us to number our days so that we can get a heart of wisdom. The halfway point affords us an opportunity to step back and then look at what our margins are and where we could be a little smarter to buy down risk and understand the spacecraft's performance for crewed flight on the very next mission.- Mike Sarafin, NASA's Artemis mission manager
Orion Program Manager Howard Hu told reporters on Monday night that the spacecraft's overall performance has been "excellent." As an example of the spacecraft's success, he said that it generates around 20% more electricity than it requires.
The Orion probe is now conducting its flyby of the moon for NASA. As part of the Artemis mission, the Orion spacecraft will fly within a few hundred miles of the moon. Sarafin also said that NASA is working on seven new mission goals to learn more about the spacecraft's capabilities and performance, so things are looking good.
On Thursday, the spacecraft is scheduled to fire its engines to break free of its present course and fly back toward Earth. As of right now, the Orion capsule is scheduled to splash down in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California on December 11. Here we see Earth and the moon as viewed from NASA's Orion spacecraft on Monday, as given by NASA.
Artemis I has had extraordinary success and has completed a series of history-making events. Since the launch, we have been receiving critical data back and there’s a lot more to come. … The biggest test after the launch is the reentry because we want to know that that heat shield works at about 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit (2,760 degrees Celsius), almost half as hot as the sun, coming in at 32 times the speed of sound (nearly 40,000 kilometers per hour).- Bill Nelson, NASA
Sarafin noted that danger remains until the spaceship has returned to Earth. He pointed out that the danger of the capsule colliding with orbital junk remains until it re-enters Earth's atmosphere. Even then, Orion has to securely release parachutes to guarantee a soft splashdown in the water. There will be a NASA recovery ship nearby to pick up the Orion capsule when it lands safely.
Orion has been beaming back some beautiful footage of its trip. Just before reaching the record distance, it recorded the Moon moving in front of the Earth. On November 16 from Florida's Kennedy Space Center, the capsule began a 26-day trip to test its systems and ensure they are ready to transport humans.
The European Space Agency has supplied a service module that is propelling the Orion spacecraft (Esa). Large thrusters for maneuvering are included into this spacecraft. Last week, the Esa module performed two critical engine runs to place Orion into a Distant Retrograde Orbit, which orbits a large loop around the Moon.
It's named "remote" because the route takes Orion a long distance from the Moon's surface (61,000km; 38,000 miles) and "retrograde" because it sends the capsule in the opposite direction of the lunar body's direction of motion.
The capsule will need two more maneuvers in the coming days to get it on the proper track to return to Earth. The spacecraft is scheduled for a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of San Diego, California, on December 11th.
If Artemis I is successful, NASA will begin selecting astronauts for the Artemis II mission, which may launch as early as 2024. Like Artemis I, Artemis II will attempt to send astronauts on a trip that will take them around the moon but not to its surface. NASA has announced that a woman and a person of color will become the first to set foot on the moon as part of the Artemis III mission, which is scheduled to launch in 2025.