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Friday, December 2, 2022
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Orion Capsule Flies Over the Moon

National

Photo of Orion, Earth and Moon | Image by NASA

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NASA’s Orion space capsule reached the Moon on November 21, passing 81 miles above its surface while entering orbit. This is the first time since 1972 that a capsule has visited the Moon.

Orion was launched on November 16 as part of the Artemis I Moon mission, as previously reported by The Dallas Express. The craft is expected to travel approximately 40,000 miles beyond the Moon and return to Earth over the course of 25 days as part of its test flight for later missions.

The lunar approach happened while the unmanned capsule passed the far side of the Moon. During this time, flight controllers in Houston had no communication with the craft for half an hour. As a result, they could not verify whether Orion’s engine firing had commenced favorably until it emerged from behind the Moon at a distance of 232,000 miles.

“This is one of those days that you’ve been thinking about and talking about for a long, long time,” said Zeb Scoville, flight director, while waiting to regain contact with the craft.

Orion will set a new record for the furthest distance traveled by a spacecraft designed for astronauts on November 28. The capsule should achieve a distance of nearly 270,000 miles from Earth, breaking the previous record of nearly 250,000 miles set by Apollo 13 in 1970.

Jim Free, NASA’s associate administrator for the Exploration Systems Development, tweeted an image of the Earth resembling a tiny blue marble that the spacecraft captured upon returning from behind the Moon.

NASA said that Orion will have another flyby with the Moon on its return trip, which will take the spacecraft within about 60 miles of the lunar surface. The capsule will spend about a week in orbit above the celestial body.

Then, combined with a gravity assist from the Moon, another timed engine firing of the European-provided service module will accelerate Orion back to Earth. Splashdown is scheduled for December 11.

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Janet
Janet
10 days ago

WOW! Godspeed, ORION!

John
John
10 days ago

Hey while you got the spacecraft looking down at the surface can you keep your eyes out for a set of car keys for me? Its about the only place i havent looked!!!!