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Artemis 1: NASA’s Orion spacecraft snaps a selfie on its trip beyond the far side of the moon

Artemis 1: NASA’s Orion spacecraft snaps a selfie on its trip beyond the far side of the moon

Artemis 1: NASA’s Orion spacecraft snaps a selfie on its trip beyond the far side of the moon



CNN

NASA released a selfie taken the Orion capsule and close-up photos of the moon’s cratered landscape as the spacecraft continues the Artemis 1 mission, a 25-and-a-half-day journey that will take it more than 40,000 miles beyond the far side of the moon.

Orion’s latest selfie — taken on Wednesday, the eighth day of the mission, with a camera on one of the capsule’s solar arrays — reveals the spacecraft giving angles with a small portion of the moon visible in the background. The close-up photos were taken on Monday when Orion did his thing closest approach to the moonpassing about 80 miles (129 kilometers) above the surface of the Moon.

If Orion completes its journey beyond the Moon and returns to Earth, it will be the furthest a human-carrying spacecraft has ever traveled. For now, the capsule just carries inanimate, scientific carrying capacity.

Orion is part of NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to eventually establish a lunar outpost that can permanently host astronauts for the first time in history, in hopes of one day paving the way to Mars.

Artemis I mission launched on November 16when NASA’s beleaguered and long-delayed Space Launch System, or SLS, rocket propelled the 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, traveling just over 2,600 miles per hour, according to NASA.

Orion is now about a day away from entering a “distant retrograde orbit” around our nearest neighbor – distant, because it will be at a very high altitude above the surface of the Moon, and retrograde, because it will orbit the Moon in the opposite direction that the Moon travels around Earth.

The trip was meant to “test” the Orion capsule, as Michael Sarafin, NASA’s Artemis mission manager, put it last week.

According to NASA’s Artemis Blogagency televised coverage of the distant retrograde orbital insertion burn is scheduled for Friday at 4:30 PM ET, with filming scheduled for 4:52 PM ET.

After touching down on the moon, the Orion capsule is expected to turn back toward Earth and gently land in the Pacific Ocean on December 11.



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