NASA’s Orion capsule flew 130 kilometers from the moon’s surface. Its cameras recorded stunning images of lunar craters.
Orion begins its last journey. NASA’s space capsule flew 130 kilometers from the moon’s surface on Monday, a spectacular maneuver that marks the start of its return journey to Earth for this first mission of the Artemis program. By making this flyby so close to the surface, the spacecraft used the Moon’s gravity to propel itself on its return path.
The essential thrust of the European Service Module’s main engine, which propels the capsule, lasted for more than three minutes. “We couldn’t be happier with the ship’s performance,” said Orion Vice President Debbie Korth. “We had to pause and see: Wow, we’re saying goodbye to the moon,” he said during an emergency briefing, in front of the amazing images broadcast live as soon as communications were restored.
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Astronauts on the Moon by 2024
This is the last major maneuver of the mission. Orion will now make only minor course corrections until it lands in the Pacific Ocean off the US city of San Diego at 5:40pm on Sunday, December 11. Its descent will be slowed by a series of 11 parachutes before it is recovered and loaded onto a US Navy ship.
With the Artemis project, the Americans want to establish a permanent presence on the Moon in order to prepare for a mission to Mars. The Artemis 2 mission will take astronauts to the Moon, but not land there. This honor will be reserved for the crew of Artemis 3, the first to land on the Moon’s South Pole. Officially, these works are scheduled to take place in 2024 and 2025 respectively.