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The historic Artemis I mission, which sends an uncrewed spacecraft on an unprecedented voyage around the Moon, is now on the last leg of its historic journey.
Orion, as NASA’s new space capsule is called, made another pass of the moon’s surface on Monday morning, capturing views of notable lunar sites, including a couple Apollo landing sites. The spacecraft then passed about 80 miles (128.7 kilometers) above the lunar surface. Second flight close the moon.
Then, Orion fired its main engine for three and a half minutes – the longest burn made on its flight so far. Engine burnout put the capsule on its final trajectory home, where it began the last leg of its 25-and-a-half-day journey.
The Artemis I mission launched on November 16, when it was a NASA mission Trapped And the long overdue A Space Launch System (SLS) rocket catapulted the Orion capsule into space, cementing its position as the most powerful operational launch vehicle ever. The SLS rocket surpassed the thrust of the Saturn V rocket, which led to the moon landings in the 20th century, by 15%.
Orion separated from the rocket after it reached space and since then it has been on a trip around the moon. About a week ago, the capsule entered what’s called a “far retro orbit” around the moon, allowing it to swing more than 40,000 miles (64,374 kilometers) beyond the moon’s far side. this farther than any spacecraft Designed to carry humans ever flown by.
The spacecraft is now set to traverse the 238,900-mile (384,400-kilometer) space between the Moon and Earth. It is expected to plunge back into Earth’s atmosphere on December 11, a process that will create enough pressure to heat its outer surface to more than 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit (2,760 degrees Celsius).
If the astronauts are on board, they will be protected by a Heat shield.
Upon re-entry, Orion will be traveling at 20,000 mph (32,187 kph), or more than 26 times the speed of sound. All that energy will be dissipated when the capsule crashes back into Earth’s dense inner atmosphere and then releases its parachutes to slow its descent further before splashing out into the Pacific Ocean.
Finally, the Orion capsule will travel more than 1.3 million miles in space.
NASA has been preparing for this mission for more than a decade. After its successful completion, the space agency will then consider selecting a crew to pilot the Artemis II mission, which could take off as early as 2024. Artemis II will aim to send astronauts on a similar trajectory as Artemis I, to fly around the moon but not land on its surface.
That could in turn pave the way for the Artemis III mission, which is It is currently scheduled for release in 2025 It is expected that a woman and a person of color will be placed on the moon for the first time. It will also mark the first visit by humans to the lunar surface in half a century.
Howard Hu, Orion program manager, told reporters that the Orion spacecraft’s performance has been “outstanding.” last week.
The space agency had to troubleshoot some minor issues, including an unexpected one The communications blackout lasted about an hour. But NASA officials said there were no major problems, and so far they consider the mission a resounding success.
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