NASA's Orion Spacecraft Offers The Last Breathtaking Views Of The Moon As It Begins Its Journey Home

NASA's Orion Spacecraft Offers The Last Breathtaking Views Of The Moon As It Begins Its Journey Home

Published on December 06, 2022 19:24 PM by Sally Harbor

Nasa's Orion Spacecraft

NASA's Orion spacecraft zoomed in behind the moon, offering spectacular views of Earth and nearby planets before starting its engines on Monday and orbiting it towards Earth during the last stages of the Artemis 1 mission. 

Orion made its final approach to the moon on Monday, passing the far side at about 4,800 miles per hour. After Orion completed its final flyby, the spacecraft's cameras captured the Earth rising above the horizon and rotating around the moon.

Since its November 16th launch from NASA's Kennedy Space Center, NASA's spacecraft has been equipped with a series of cameras that transmit rear views of the Moon and Earth.

Orion Conducts Successful Engine Burn

(Image Credits: chron)

At 11:43 am EST, the Orion spacecraft completed a return power flyby (RPF) when the orbital maneuvering engine fired for 3 minutes and 27 seconds, placing Orion in a suitable orbit on 25.5 December 11. landed in the Pacific Ocean. 

Mission control managers at the Johnson Space Center in Houston said they would "go" for the burn about 20 minutes before the scheduled milestone.

On its final lunar flyby, Orion reached about 80 miles from the lunar surface, and NASA officials say the spacecraft flew over several Apollo landing sites.

Before the flyby, NASA lost contact with Orion for approximately 30 minutes while Orion was on the moon's far side. When the signal was re-established in the Deep Space Network, Orion's view of the moon's craters and features, and its target Earth, was breathtaking. This view will next be available when NASA astronauts orbit the Moon in Artemis II in the same orbit.

Orion must conclude a queue of engine burns to return to Earth. The first occurred last week during the 45-second retrograde orbit (DRO) departure burn that prepares the spacecraft for the return flight.

The Spacecraft Is Now Homeward-Bound For Earth

As the spacecraft began to move away from the moon, its camera caught a final close-up of the moon.

Orion will land off the coast of San Diego, California, where it will be waiting for its US Navy salvage team around 11:00 am on December 11.

NASA will ensure calm seas, low winds, and a low chance of precipitation to retrieve the Orion capsule safely.

Artemis 1 mission has no astronauts on board, but Orion's test flight and Artemis II space launch system indicate NASA plans to fly its two astronauts around Orion's moon. Is established when This will be watched by Artemis III, the first human-crewed moon landing in 50 years.

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