Orion flew over for the last time on the Artemis 1 mission to the Moon : it was only 128 kilometers from its surface.
The Orion capsule has made its last approach to the Moon before returning to Earth to complete the first Artemis mission .
This second flyby was a farewell, since, after a few minutes, it turned on its main engine to propel itself towards our planet.
Orion and his last shots of the Moon
NASA held a live event to showcase these stunning latest images of the Moon before the spacecraft ‘s return.
After traveling farther from Earth than any other human-qualified spacecraft early in its mission, Orion came closer to the Moon on Monday by flying past the landing sites of NASA’s Apollo 12 and 14 missions.
We’ve completed our return powered flyby burn and are heading home! pic.twitter.com/awelzovlRP
— Orion Spacecraft (@NASA_Orion) December 5, 2022
NASA spokeswoman Sandra Jones said Monday that “the next time we see a view like this, we’ll be hearing it from the crew’s perspective during Artemis II .” This flight is scheduled for this 2023.
As Orion moved behind the Moon , NASA lost its ability to communicate with the spacecraft during an expected signal loss period of about 40 minutes. Shortly after Orion surfaced, the signal was restored as expected.
The approach was made to take advantage of the gravitational force of the Moon and plot the return course to our planet.
Orion fired its main engine for three and a half minutes, its longest burn yet. Now, it will have to travel 383,400 kilometers to reach the planet.
The capsule is expected to pass through the Earth’s atmosphere on December 11, enduring temperatures of up to 2760 degrees Celsius. If there were astronauts inside it, they would withstand it because of its heat shield.
Orion will travel at 32,187 kilometers per hour or 26 times the speed of sound. Its ditching is focused on the Pacific Ocean in the afternoon of said Sunday.