Orion’s splashdown completes Artemis I’s lunar mission

NASA’s Orion spacecraft from the Artemis I mission crash-landed in the Pacific Ocean after a 25.5-day trip to the moon. Image: NASA/James M. Blair.

The Orion spacecraft from the Artemis I mission made a parachute landing off the coast of California. On Sunday, Orion’s heat shield successfully withstood the extreme heat of Earth’s re-entry as it plunged at nearly 40,000 kilometers per hour.

Orion crashed in the Pacific Ocean, west of Baja California, two hours ahead of schedule, completing this historic mission. That moment comes 25.5 days after NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) finally lifted off on November 16 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida after several launches were aborted due to technical issues and storms.

This mission was a deep space test in preparation for the launch of the Artemis II mission with astronauts aboard Orion.

Heat shield resistance question

The last step for Orion, which has completed numerous launches and retained enough fuel to fly, was to see if its heat shield could withstand the heat of high-speed re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere. The heat shield was exposed to temperatures less than half the sun.

Another priority was the return of Orion and its parachutes after splashdown, part of a mission led by a NASA rescue team in conjunction with the US Navy.

“The landing of the Orion spacecraft, which took place 50 years after the Apollo 17 landing on the moon, is the crowning achievement of Artemis I. From launching the most powerful rocket in the world to an exceptional trip around the moon. and back to Earth, this flight test is a milestone in Artemis generation lunar exploration,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.

Orion came within 130 kilometers of the Moon and flew nearly 434,000 kilometers from Earth.

“This would not have been possible without the incredible NASA team,” Nelson continued. “Over the years, thousands of people have contributed to this mission, which inspires the world to work together to reach pristine cosmic shores. Today is a huge victory for NASA, the United States, our international partners and all of humanity. »

On its return to the Moon, Orion came within 130 kilometers of the Moon and flew nearly 434,000 kilometers from Earth, more than 1,000 times further than the Earth’s orbit of the International Space Station. The goal was to test Orion without a human crew. In deep lunar orbit, Orion set a new record for maximum distance to Earth, surpassing the record distance set by the Apollo 13 mission in 1970.

NASA originally planned to land Orion off the coast of San Diego, but a cold front in the southern California region brought light rain, wind and rough seas, prompting NASA to move the proposed landing site 300 nautical miles (555 kilometers) south.

NASA uploaded over 140 GB of technical data and images during the flight

Landing and recovery was NASA’s first and third mission priority for Orion. The second is to demonstrate the modes of operation and flight of the Orion. As part of this mission, NASA downloaded over 140GB of technical data and images during the flight.

In the coming days, NASA and the Navy will return Orion to Earth, where technicians will unload the spacecraft and transport it by truck to the Kennedy Space Center.

There, the teams will open the hatch, retrieve the data recorded on board, and unload various payloads, including Commander Munikin Campos, space biology experiments, Snoopy, and the official flight kit. NASA will then test and analyze the capsule and its heat shield for several months.

Fuel problem

Future Artemis missions aim to establish a long-term presence on the Moon for scientific discovery and prepare for human exploration of Mars.

NASA is currently testing CubeSat as part of the Capstone mission, which entered a dedicated near-rectilinear halo orbit (NRHO) last month, where it intends to host the future Gateway space station to support space crews. NASA has chosen the NRHO orbit (Nearly rectilinear halo orbit) because it needs the Gateway fuel to last at least 15 years and still be close enough to the Moon.

Source: .com

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