NASA‘s Artemis I rocket is on its way back to Earth for a Dec. 11 splashdown and the Orion spacecraft captured some of its final close-up images of the Moon as it travels back home. On Dec. 5, the rocket made a monumental 207-second engine burn that put it on track to return to Earth, all while just 79 miles from the surface of the Moon. The result was not only the rocket’s correct trajectory but amazing views of the Moon’s surface as well.
At a conference on Dec. 5, NASA officials shared that Artemis is right on track. “Everything that vehicle was asked to do, it’s done. And it’s done it phenomenally,” said flight director at NASA’s Johnson Space Center Judd Frieling.
Mike Sarafin, Artemis mission manager at NASA’s Washington Headquarters, also spoke about the amazing feats that Artemis has accomplished. “We got to see the Earth transit behind the moon extending beyond the pale of human spaceflight,” said Sarafin. “We got to see a flyby of the moon as part of the return powered flyby and witness the Earthrise for the first time in the Artemis generation. When we’re done with this mission, we will have traveled over 1.4 million miles in the course of the 26-day mission. And we are on track to do that.”
The recent images that Orion sent back are breathtaking. The spacecraft passed so close to the Moon and performed delicate maneuvers while so close to the Moon’s surface. The Artemis Mission is proof of how far space flight has come over many years.
NASA’s Orion Spacecraft Captures Amazing Images, Breaks Records, and Prepares to Come Home
NASA’s Orion spacecraft is capturing incredible images and streaming them back to Earth, such as these incredible looks at the duality of the Earth and Moon. Or a close-up view of the Moon’s surface on a side of the satellite we usually don’t see. Not only is Orion sending back these images, it’s also breaking records up there.
Around Nov. 29, the 13-day mark of Orion’s 26-day mission, the spacecraft broke the record for farthest travel distance from Earth for a human-rated spacecraft. It traveled 270,000 miles from Earth on its trip around the Moon. The record was previously held by the Apollo 13 spacecraft, which traveled 248,655 miles from Earth in 1970. Apollo 13, though, was trying to navigate back home after an explosion in its service module. Orion was just taking a stroll around the Moon.
Still, it’s incredibly impressive. Additionally, Orion has been saving much more energy on its trip than initially thought. Orion is a module from the European Space Agency assisting in engine burns, and that design has allowed Orion to conserve more energy, use less fuel, and create more power than NASA thought it would.