NASA has released a selfie I took Orion capsule and close-ups of the lunar crater-marked landscape as the spacecraft continues on the Artemis 1 mission, a 25-and-a-half-day journey that takes more than 40,000 miles beyond the far side of the moon.
The most recent portrait of Orion — taken on Wednesday, day eight of the mission, by a camera on one of the capsule’s solar arrays — reveals the spacecraft giving angles with a little of the moon visible in the background. The close-ups were taken on Monday as Orion did its thing The closest approach to the moonpassing about 80 miles (129 kilometers) above the lunar surface.
If Orion completes its journey beyond the Moon and back to Earth, it will be the farthest a human-carrying spacecraft has traveled. For now, the capsule is carrying only Inanimate, scientific Payloads.
Orion is part of NASA’s Artemis program, which ultimately aims to create a lunar outpost that can permanently host astronauts for the first time in history, with hopes of paving the way to Mars one day.
Artemis I mission It was launched on November 16thwhen NASA’s beleaguered and long overdue Space Launch System, or SLS, catapulted its Orion capsule into space, cementing the rocket as the most powerful operational launch vehicle ever built.
As of Thursday afternoon, the capsule was 222,993 miles (358,972 kilometers) from Earth and 55,819 miles (89,831 kilometers) from the moon, moving at just over 2,600 miles per hour, according to to NASA.
Orion is now about a day away from entering a “far retrograde orbit” around our nearest neighbor—distant, because it will be very high above the Moon’s surface, and far back, because it will orbit the Moon in the opposite direction from which the Moon orbits Earth.
The trajectory is intended to “stress test” the Orion capsule, Michael Sarafin, NASA’s Artemis mission manager, said last week.
according to NASA’s Artemis blogthe agency’s television coverage of the distant orbit inclusion burn is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. EST on Friday and the burn is scheduled for 4:52 p.m. ET.
After spinning around the Moon, the Orion capsule is expected to return to Earth and land in the Pacific Ocean on December 11th.