Orion spacecraft

Five days after the launch of Artemis I, an uncrewed test flight to check how their capsule holds itself under the stresses of deep space. The capsule flew directly over tranquility base, the landing site of Apollo 11 back in July 1976 where astronauts like Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to walk on moon.

The spacecraft fired its engine from Kennedy Space Centre at 7:44 a.m. on 16 November, for a 26-day voyage around the moon.
Lunar orbiter-1, source- NASA solar system exploration

Howard Hu, Orion’s programmer manager said that it was a terrific day and that they have seen really good performance across the board. 

Bill Nelson, a NASA administrator, called this mission a huge step for the Artemis I mission and critical to their understanding of spacecraft before they fly astronauts to the moon. He congratulated all the team members and partners and called this an achievement for them as well as for humanity itself.

Orion’s spacecraft completes closest moon approach, source-NASA’s Artemis

NASA’s Sandra Jones said on the agency’s live podcast that Orion carries the torch of the Artemis generation, as it emerges from behind the moon, and earth rises in the form of a pale blue dot.

It flew about 1300 miles above the tranquility base, as it passed around the moon. Jeff Frieling, flight director said that the site was in darkness at that time. NASA released pictures of the capsule’s interior, where a model ‘moonikin’ watches over control panels and a stuffed nosey doll floats as an indicator of zero gravity. Flight director Judd Frieling assured that soon more footage would be released, and currently a low-resolution livestream from Orion is also available.

On Friday, the spacecraft will enter a retrograde orbit above the lunar surface. It will stay in orbit for around 6 days before firing its system again back to earth.

Artemis is seeking to create a permanent presence on and around the moon, unlike the Apollo program, which was driven by the Cold War space race with the Soviet Union. NASA is targeting the south pole of the moon for human landing, where there is water in the permanently shadowed craters.

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