NASA’s Orion spacecraft circles the moon for the first time, in the Artemis I mission.
Photos from the spacecraft show it leaving Earth and speeding to the far side of the moon.
It is the first time a human-made spacecraft has flown to the moon since the Apollo program ended 50 years ago.
NASA’s new Orion spacecraft is behind the far side of the moon and is sending beautiful pictures back to Earth.
The space capsule was launched on November 15 aboard the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. Both the capsule and rocket are designed to send humans back to the moon for the first time since the last Apollo mission in 1972. new program called Artemis. Both the capsule and rocket flew for the first time.
The rocket’s work is done, but Orion is now completing a 25-day journey around the moon and back. The mission is called Artemis I. It is a test flight to ensure the spacecraft can safely carry astronauts.
As Orion zipped away from Earth, his camera panned back to look at our planet.
Orion entered the “moon’s sphere of influence” on Sunday, where the moon overtakes Earth as its primary gravity.
It then brushed past the moon on Monday, flying about 81 miles above the lunar surface, passing three Apollo landing sites. The spaceship screamed past at about 5,102 miles per hour, then slowed to soar through space at 3,489 miles per hour, according to NASA.
Now Orion is on the far side of the moon. No humans have experienced this view firsthand since the Apollo missions. But if Orion succeeds in its first flight, NASA plans to send it with astronauts next time.
On Friday, Orion will reach its farthest point from the moon, about 57,287 miles beyond it.
Then the spacecraft should reach its farthest point from Earth on Monday, about 20,000 miles farther than any spacecraft designed to carry humans has ever traveled.
This mission is designed to test the limits of the starship. Orion carries three mannequins equipped with scientific instruments and sensors to measure the acceleration, vibration and radiation that could affect future passengers.
The moon’s gravity should catapult Orion back to Earth, sending the spaceship into a fiery fall through the atmosphere, which will test its heat shield’s ability to protect passengers. Then Orion should release his parachutes and drift off to a splash in the Pacific Ocean.
NASA plans to use SLS, Orion and SpaceX’s Starship to land astronauts on the moon again in 2025. Ultimately, the agency plans to establish a permanent base on the lunar surface and build a new space station in lunar orbit.
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