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NASA’s Orion Makes Safe Return To Earth After A Test Flight To Moon

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After almost 26 days in lunar orbit, the next-generation astronaut spacecraft NASA's Orion makes safe returnto Earth. After an explosive re-entry into Earth's atmosphere and a leisurely drop aided by parachutes, the Orion spacecraft splashed down in the Pacific Ocean.

Due to the fact that this was a test, there were no passengers on board, but that will change on the following trip. NASA's Orion mission plans are becoming more and more involved. These will likely begin in the latter half of 2024, and by 2025 or 2026, they will be attempting to send people back to the lunar surface.

Just 50 years ago, on this day, the Apollo 17 crew accomplished this feat for the final time. Artemis, the sister of Apollo in Greek mythology, is the inspiration for the name of the agency's latest endeavor.

How Splashdown Happened

After splashdown, a U.S. military aircraft and a fleet of speed boats approached the capsule for roughly five hours of inspections before Orion was placed onto a U.S. Naval warship and sent to San Diego, California.

The splashdown marked the end of a 25-day mission that began with a lunar fly-by some 79 miles (127 km) above the moon and ended almost two weeks after the probe had traveled its furthest from Earth, at a distance of about 270,000 miles (434,500 km).

About 30 minutes before splashdown, the spacecraft detached its service module in orbit, exposing a heatshield that reached peak temperatures of about 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit (2,760 degrees Celsius) during its blazing rapid fall.

After entering Earth's atmosphere at a speed of 24,500 miles per hour (39,400 kph), the capsule's speed was reduced to 325 miles per hour by atmospheric friction. Two sets of parachutes then assisted in further slowing the capsule's speed to a projected 20 miles per hour at splashdown. According to Navias, the capsule demonstrated a "perfect" rate of fall.

This is a great day not only for America, but it's a great day for all of our international partners - that's the difference from 50 years ago.- Bill Nelson, NASA administrator

NASA's Orion Capsule safely returns to earth after a 25-day test flight | World News | WION

Apollo’s Successor Programme

NASA's Space Launch System (SLS), the world's most powerful rocket and the largest rocket NASA has developed since the Saturn V of the Apollo period, launched the capsule on November 16 from the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The events surrounding Artemis I's return to Earth occurred on the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 17 lunar landing by Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt on December 11, 1972. In the six Apollo missions that began in 1969, a total of 12 NASA astronauts walked on the moon.

After decades of focusing on space shuttles and the ISS, NASA has shifted its human spaceflight program away from low-Earth orbit and toward the Artemis mission, named after Apollo's twin sister.

The first SLS-Orion mission marked the beginning of Artemis, the successor program to Apollo, with the goal of sending humans back to the moon within the decade and building a permanent base there to pave the way for future Mars expeditions.

Engineers will spend months analyzing Artemis I mission data. As early as 2024, a crewed Artemis II journey around the moon and back is planned, with the first lunar landing of people, including a woman, occurring with Artemis III within the next several years.

It is our priority-one objective. There is no arc-jet or aerothermal facility here on Earth capable of replicating hypersonic re-entry with a heat shield of this size.- Mike Sarafin, NASA’s Artemis I Mission Manager

NASA's 2024 Mission

Despite there being no passengers on the $4 billion rehearsal, NASA officials were overjoyed to have successfully completed the mission after years of flight cancellations and beyond expenditures. Late summer and early fall delays occurred due to fuel leaks and storms.

The next scheduled Orion lunar orbital trip is set for 2024. There'll be four astronauts making the voyage. Thereafter, as soon as 2025, a crew of two will set foot on the moon. Planned for the first time, the program will include a woman and a person of color in its lunar landing crew.

Despite Orion's electrical problem and communication outages during its lunar orbit, NASA has praised the performance of both SLS and Orion, saying they had exceeded the agency's expectations.

Final Words

Artemis is a more science-driven and broad-based program than Apollo, which grew out of the Cold War period U.S.-Soviet space competition and included just the United States and the Soviet Union.

The service module for Orion, provided by the European Space Agency and discarded before the spacecraft entered Earth's atmosphere, "performed beautifully," according to a statement released by ESA mission manager Philippe Deloo.

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About The Authors

Suleman Shah

Suleman Shah- Suleman Shah is a researcher and freelance writer. As a researcher, he has worked with MNS University of Agriculture, Multan (Pakistan) and Texas A & M University (USA). He regularly writes science articles and blogs for science news website immersse.com and open access publishers OA Publishing London and Scientific Times. He loves to keep himself updated on scientific developments and convert these developments into everyday language to update the readers about the developments in the scientific era. His primary research focus is Plant sciences, and he contributed to this field by publishing his research in scientific journals and presenting his work at many Conferences. Shah graduated from the University of Agriculture Faisalabad (Pakistan) and started his professional carrier with Jaffer Agro Services and later with the Agriculture Department of the Government of Pakistan. His research interest compelled and attracted him to proceed with his carrier in Plant sciences research. So, he started his Ph.D. in Soil Science at MNS University of Agriculture Multan (Pakistan). Later, he started working as a visiting scholar with Texas A&M University (USA). Shah’s experience with big Open Excess publishers like Springers, Frontiers, MDPI, etc., testified to his belief in Open Access as a barrier-removing mechanism between researchers and the readers of their research. Shah believes that Open Access is revolutionizing the publication process and benefitting research in all fields.

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