Flying just 80 miles off the lunar surface, NASA’s Orion capsule fired its main engine Monday to slingshot around the moon and set a course for splashdown Dec. 11 in the Pacific Ocean to complete the Artemis 1 test flight. The unpiloted spacecraft relayed home ethereal real-time views of the moon’s cratered surface and a crescent Earth suspended in the blackness of space a quarter-million miles away.
Continuing a “drama-free” test flight, NASA’s unpiloted Orion spacecraft is set to fire its main engine Thursday to leave a distant orbit around the moon, heading for a flyby close to the lunar surface next week to swing onto a trajectory bringing it back to Earth for splashdown in the Pacific Ocean on Dec. 11.
Another major engine burn on NASA’s Artemis 1 mission placed the Orion spacecraft into a distant retrograde orbit around the moon, where it will spend six days performing more tests and demonstrations before returning to Earth. The 88-second burn by Orion’s main engine occurred at 4:52 p.m. EST (2152 GMT) Friday.
NASA’s unpiloted Orion moonship, sailing smoothly toward a remote lunar orbit after a spectacular low-altitude flyby Monday, is operating in near-flawless fashion, mission managers reported Monday, out-performing expectations on a flight needed to pave the way toward the first piloted mission in 2024.
NASA’s oft-delayed Artemis 1 lunar test flight finally got off the ground at 1:47 a.m. EST (0647 GMT) Wednesday with the inaugural blastoff of NASA’s huge Space Launch System moon rocket from Kennedy Space Center. The unpiloted demonstration mission will pave the way for future human missions to the moon.