Three days after its launch to the Moon, the Orion spacecraft is known for its “great achievement”. It is already 320,000 km from Earth.
Lman’s return to the Moon appears to be on track. The performance of the Orion spacecraft, on its way to the Moon for three days after taking off from Florida, “exceeds the expectations” of teams from the American space agency, NASA. “Today we are gathered to review the performance of the Orion ship […]and it exceeds expectations”, declared Mike Sarafin, who is in charge of this mission named Artemis 1, during a press conference.
The spacecraft’s four solar panels, about four meters long, were installed correctly and “provide more energy” than expected, said Jim Geffre, manager of Orion at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. It is there, in Texas, that the control center from which the ship is piloted is located. Orion is already about 320,000 km from Earth and is preparing to perform, using its engines, the first of the four main thrusts programmed during the mission.
This maneuver, which will take place early Monday, November 21, will bring the spacecraft approximately 100 km closer to the moon’s surface in order to take advantage of its gravity. Since this will take place behind the far side of the Moon, NASA is expected to lose contact with the spacecraft for approximately 35 minutes. “We’re going to pass some of the Apollo landing sites,” said Jeff Radigan, NASA’s flight director, although these will be in shadow. A video of the flyover will be posted later.
Return planned for December 11
Four days later, a second thrust from the engines will place Orion in a distant orbit around the Moon. The ship will go up to 64,000 km behind her – a record for a habitable capsule. It will then begin the journey back to Earth, with a landing in the Pacific Ocean scheduled for December 11, after just over 25 days of flight.
The success of this mission depends on the future of Artemis 2, which will take astronauts around the Moon without landing, then Artemis 3, which will finally mark the return of humans to the lunar surface. These missions are officially scheduled to take place in 2024 and 2025, respectively. In fact, this new capsule will take astronauts to the Moon in the coming years – the first to set foot on its surface since the last Apollo mission in 1972. This first test flight , without a crew on board, must first serve to ensure the vehicle is safe.
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Mike Sarafin also clarified Friday that 10 scientific microsatellites had indeed been deployed when the rocket lifted off, but that half of them had technical or communication problems. These experiments, conducted separately by independent teams, have no impact on the main mission.