NASA’s Artemis I Controllers Briefly Lose Contact With Orion Capsule by Moon

by Emily Morgan
Photo by: Kevin Dietsch / Staff

Mission controllers for NASA’s Artemis I at Johnson Space Center in Houston recently lost communication between the unmanned Orion capsule and the Deep Space Network for nearly an hour before restoring the connection.

According to reports, it’s unclear what exactly happened or what caused the disconnection. It began at 1:09 a.m. ET Wednesday and lasted for 47 minutes. However, since the connection was restored, communications have been restored and seem to be back to normal.

The space agency reported that data connection loss came while reconfiguring the link between Orion and the Deep Space Network.

“The reconfiguration has been conducted successfully several times in the last few days, and the team is investigating the cause of the loss of signal,” the agency said afterward. “The team resolved the issue with a reconfiguration on the ground side. Engineers are examining data from the event to help determine what happened, and the command and data handling officer will be downlinking data recorded onboard Orion during the outage to include in that assessment.”

Despite the loss, temporary disconnections with spacecraft are nothing new or unusual. Regardless, officials need to monitor the situation.

On Friday, Orion will enter orbit around the moon. The capsule meant to take astronauts on future Artemis missions will eventually spend about a week in lunar orbit before returning to Earth. The capsule will arrive here with a parachute-assisted splashdown in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California on Dec. 11.

Artemis I mission suffers no damage despite losing connection for nearly an hour

Per reports, despite the outage, Orion is still in good shape, as the space vessel suffered no damage.

The inaugural Artemis mission will cruise for Orion and NASA’s giant Space Launch System, the most powerful rocket ever to lift off. The pair are set to carry astronauts for the first time in 2024 on Artemis 2, which will send a manned Orion crew around the moon.

Then, Artemis 3 will follow a year or so later. Hopefully, if all goes well, it will put astronauts near the moon’s south pole. This will be where NASA hopes to build a crewed outpost, one of the primary goals of its Artemis missions.

Artemis 1 lifted off at 1:47 a.m. ET on Nov. 16 from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, showing off the incredible power of the space agency’s Space Launch System rocket.

Shortly after, the Orion spacecraft reached Earth orbit. Then, 87 minutes after launch, it performed a Trans Lunar Injection burn to send it shooting toward the moon. Later, on Nov. 21, Orion had another burn to send the spacecraft close enough to the moon’s surface to use the moon’s gravity to pull the spacecraft around the moon into a far-off retrograde lunar orbit.