Artemis mission flew past the Moon at minimum altitude

On November 21, at 03:44 p.m. GMT+2, the NASA Artemis I mission finally reached the Moon and successfully conducted a gravitational maneuver. During the maneuver, the Orion spacecraft turned on the engines, being at a minimum altitude of 130 km above the surface of the Moon. The orbit correction took place in complete darkness on the back side of our moon, where radio signals cannot penetrate from Earth, so the capsule completed the maneuver temporarily without communication.

“The maneuver took place quite close to the surface of the Moon in order to use the gravitational force of the moon and enter a distant retrograde orbit,” said Sandra Jones from NASA.

On November 25, another important maneuver will take place: the launch of an engine to launch Orion into a distant retrograde orbit (DRO) around the Moon. The capsule will remain remote 64 thousand km from the surface of the Moon — until December 1, when another engine start will send the spacecraft back to Earth. Orion will return home on December 11, colliding with Earth’s atmosphere at tremendous speed before gently landing in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California.

Artemis Mission Objectives

The Orion spacecraft of the Artemis I mission without a crew has been cruising to the Moon in fully automatic mode since the morning of November 16 after launching on a giant NASA Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. 

Artemis I is the first mission under NASA’s Lunar exploration program, which aims to create a crewed research base on the Moon by the end of the 2020s. The launch of Artemis I also marked the debut of the SLS, the most powerful rocket ever successfully launched into space.

If all goes well with Artemis I, NASA will start preparing for Artemis II, which will send astronauts around the Moon in about 2024. In 2025, the agency plans to launch Artemis III, which will land at the South Pole of the Moon, the site of the proposed research base. Artemis III will be the first astronaut landing on the Moon since the last Apollo mission in 1972, as well as the first in history to take a woman and an African American to the Moon.

Earlier, we reported on how NASA shared amazing footage of Earth from aboard Orion.

According to NASA

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