Science

Watch the Artemis 1 Orion spacecraft enter lunar orbit on Friday

NASA’s Artemis 1 Orion spacecraft will arrive in orbit around the Moon on Friday afternoon (November 25) and you’ll be able to watch the big moment live.

Orion has been making a detour to Earth’s nearest neighbor since launch last Wednesday (November 16) as part of NASA’s Artemis 1 mission – and the uncrewed capsule is about to reach its destination.

At 4:52 pm EST (2152 GMT) on Friday, Orion is to fire the engine that will put the spacecraft into a deep 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 (21:30 GMT).

Related: NASA Artemis 1 lunar mission: live updates
Read more: 10 wild facts about the Artemis 1 lunar mission

NASA’s Artemis 1 Orion spacecraft captured this view of the Moon during a close flyby of the Moon on November 21, 2022. (Image credit: NASA)

DRO will take Orion about 40,000 miles (64,000 kilometers) beyond the Moon to its furthest point. Following this path, the capsule will set a new record by flying farther from Earth than any previous human spacecraft.

The current mark of 248,655 miles (400,171 km) belongs to NASA’s Apollo 13 mission, which was not supposed to fly that far. Apollo 13 circled the moon rather than land on a body after an oxygen tank in the spacecraft’s service module failed in deep space.

Orion will be in the DRO for a little less than a week. The capsule will leave lunar orbit with its engine running on Dec. 1 and then head home to Earth. The Orion will arrive here on December 11 after splashing down 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 test Orion and NASA’s huge Space Launch System rocket, which sent a capsule into the sky last week ahead of scheduled manned missions to the Moon.

The first of these astronaut flights, Artemis 2, will send Orion around the Moon in 2024. Artemis 3 will then land near the moon’s south pole in 2025 or 2026. the south polar region is a key target of its Artemis program.

Mike Wall is the author of Out There (will open in a new tab)(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrations by Carl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (will open in a new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (will open in a new tab) or facebook (will open in a new tab).

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