Watch the Artemis 1 Orion spacecraft enter lunar orbit on Friday
NASA’s Artemis 1 Orion spacecraft will reach lunar orbit on Friday afternoon (November 25), and you can follow the milestone live.
On Friday at 16:52 EST (21:52 GMT), Orion is scheduled to perform an engine burn that will insert the spacecraft into a distant retrograde orbit (DRO) around the Moon. You can follow all the action live here on Space.com, courtesy of NASA, starting at 4:30 PM EST (9:30 PM GMT).
DRO will take Orion about 40,000 miles (64,000 kilometers) behind the moon at its farthest point. As it travels that path, the capsule will set a new record, going farther from Earth than any previous spacecraft.
The current mark of 248,655 miles (400,171 km) is held by NASA Apollo 13 mission, which should not have traveled so far. Apollo 13 orbited the moon instead of landing on its body after an oxygen tank in the spacecraft’s service module failed in deep space.
Orion will spend a little less than a week in DRO. The capsule will leave lunar orbit with its engine fired up on December 1 and then head home to Earth. Orion will arrive here on December 11 with a splash in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California, if all goes according to plan.
The nearly 26-day Artemis 1 mission is designed to probe Orion and NASA’s huge Space Launch System rocket, which sent a capsule skyward last week, ahead of planned crewed missions to the moon.
The first of those astronaut flights, Artemis 2will send Orion around the Moon in 2024. Artemis 3 will then put down boots near the lunar south pole in 2025 or 2026. Further landing missions will follow, as NASA builds a manned research outpost in the south polar region – a key goal of its Artemis program.
Mike Wall is the author of “There (opens in new tab)” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for extraterrestrial life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or Facebook (opens in new tab).
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