Artemis 1: The Orion capsule flies to a record in space

Placed in a distant retrograde lunar orbit, the spacecraft is about to set a new distance record from Earth for a habitable spacecraft.

By Chloe Durand-Parenti

On Monday, November 28, the thirteenth day of the Artemis 1 mission, Orion continues to drift away from Earth and the Moon, looking back toward our planet as its satellite prepares to eclipse it.
© Nasa

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HAVEAfter its successful flyby of the far side of the Moon last Monday, the US Artemis 1 mission took another step this weekend by heading deep into deep space. In fact, on Friday around 23:00 (Paris time), on the tenth day of this adventure, the Orion capsule, designed to return humans to the Moon, was placed in a distant retrograde orbit, where it will be able to stay for a few days without consuming too much fuel. The purpose of this stay is to put the vessel and its equipment to the test in this particularly hostile environment.

As well as testing the proper functioning and resistance of the ship and its critical systems – especially its propulsion, communication and navigation equipment – dummies loaded with sensors must also make it possible to specify the impact that a journey of this type will have. on the astronauts brought to take place on board Orion. In particular, this involves assessing the level of radiation entering the cabin. In total, this phase should last six days, during which the capsule will travel approximately half a lunar orbit before returning to Earth.

Set a new record

But before that, the test mission for the new NASA lunar program must provide a record. On Saturday at 14:42 (Paris time), the Orion capsule first crossed the greatest distance ever traveled by a ship designed to carry humans into space and bring them back to Earth. A record set in April 1970 during the Apollo 13 mission of 400,171 kilometers from our planet. After which Orion should reach its farthest distance from Earth on Monday for this first mission. Enough to set a new record of just over 434,500 kilometers from our beautiful blue planet.

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Its landing in the Pacific Ocean is scheduled for December 11. Remember that the full and complete success of Artemis 1 depends on the future of Artemis 2, which is to take astronauts around the Moon without landing there in 2024, then Artemis 3, which will mark the official return of humans to the surface of the moon in 2025, but more likely in 2026.

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