On the evening of December 5, the Orion spacecraft will perform a close flyby of the Moon. This maneuver will direct the spacecraft to a trajectory that ensures its return to Earth. A live broadcast of the event is already being conducted by NASA on the Internet.
The Orion spacecraft was launched by a superheavy SLS rocket on November 16. On November 21, it carried out a flyby of the moon of our planet. In its course, Orion performed a maneuver that transferred it to a distant retrograde orbit around the Moon (DRO). The spacecraft was on the DRO in the period from November 25 to November 30. After that, Orion performed a new maneuver that sent it back to the Moon.
The point of Orion’s minimum approach to the Moon will be passed on December 5 at 04:42 p.m. World time. At this moment, the spacecraft will be located at a distance of 127 km from the lunar surface. Immediately after its passage, Orion activates its main engine. The 105-second maneuver will have to put the device on the trajectory of returning to Earth. If all goes well, the Orion capsule will land in the Pacific Ocean near San Diego on December 11.
The upcoming Moon flyby is already being broadcast live by NASA. The broadcast is available at the following link:
It is worth noting that according to NASA experts, despite a few minor technical problems, in general, Orion showed itself from the best side. In particular, the spacecraft consumes less energy and has spent less fuel than the engineers expected. And its solar panels, on the contrary, generate more energy than expected. The absence of significant problems and additional resources even allowed specialists additional tests to verify the reliability of the device’s systems and check the limits of their capabilities.
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