NASA’s Orion Spacecraft Enters Lunar Orbit A Week After Artemis I Launch

NASA’s Orion spacecraft was placed into lunar orbit on Friday, officials said, as a long-delayed trip to the Moon successfully continued.

A little more than a week after the spacecraft blasted off from Florida toward the Moon, flight controllers “successfully fired to put Orion into a remote reentry orbit,” the US space agency said on its website.

The spacecraft will take astronauts to the Moon in the coming years – the first to set foot there since the last Apollo mission in 1972.

This first test flight, without crew on board, aims to ensure that the vehicle is safe.

“The orbit is so far that Orion will fly about 40,000 miles above the Moon,” NASA said.

While in lunar orbit, flight controllers will monitor critical systems and make payments while in deep space, the agency said.

It will take Orion about a week to complete a half orbit around the Moon. It will then leave orbit for the return trip home, according to NASA.

On Saturday, the spacecraft is expected to reach 40,000 kilometers beyond the Moon, a record for a habitable capsule. The current record is held by the Apollo 13 spacecraft at 248,655 miles (400,171 km) from Earth.

It will then begin its journey back to Earth, with a landing in the Pacific Ocean scheduled for December 11, just after more than 25 days of flight.

The success of this mission will determine the future of the Artemis 2 mission, which will take astronauts around the Moon without landing, and then Artemis 3, which will finally mark the return of humans to the lunar surface.

Those missions are scheduled to take place in 2024 and 2025, respectively.

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