NASA’s Orion capsule reached the moon on Monday, flying around the backside and passing within 80 miles of the surface on its way to a record-breaking lunar orbit.
The close approach occurred when the crew capsule and the three test dummies were on the far side of the Moon.
Due to a half-hour outage in communications, flight controllers in Houston didn’t know if the critical engine launch was going well until the capsule exited from behind the Moon, more than 232,000 miles from Earth.
It’s the first time she’s visited the moon capsule since then NASAThe Apollo program 50 years ago, and such a major milestone in the $4.1 billion test flight that began last Wednesday after Orion launched into space. On top of the colossal Artemis Rocket.
The Orion flight path took over the landing sites of Apollo 11, 12 and 14 – humanity’s first three landings on the moon.
The moon loomed larger than ever in video broadcast early in the morning, as the capsule has closed a few thousand miles since it blasted off last Wednesday from Kennedy, Florida. space The center, atop the most powerful rocket NASA has ever built.
“This is one of those days you’ve been thinking and talking about for a very long time,” said Flight Director Zeb Scoville as he waited for communication to resume.
As the capsule swung by from behind the Moon, cameras on board sent back an image of Earth, a bluish blob surrounded by black.
Orion needed to slingshot around the moon to pick up enough speed to enter the sweeping, lopsided lunar orbit. If all goes well, another engine launch will put the capsule into that orbit on Friday 1st.
This weekend, Orion will break NASA’s distance record for a spacecraft designed for astronauts — about 250,000 miles from Earth, set by Apollo 13 in 1970.
And it will continue to advance, reaching its furthest distance from Earth next Monday at about 270,000 miles.
The capsule will spend approximately a week in orbit around the Moon, before returning home. The outflow into the Pacific Ocean was scheduled for December 11th.
Orion has no lunar lander, and a landing won’t come until NASA astronauts attempt to land on the moon in 2025 using the SpaceX Starship. Before then, however, astronauts will catch Orion on a trip around the moon as early as 2024.