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.
Three Chinese astronauts landed Sunday after 182 days on China’s Tiangong space station, completing the busiest mission yet for the country’s human spaceflight program. The astronauts performed three spacewalks and assisted in the arrival and outfitting of two new lab modules at the Tiangong outpost.
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.
A commercial moon craft developed by the Japanese company ispace is awaiting launch from Cape Canaveral on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that will send it on a five-month trajectory culminating in a lunar landing attempt next year, an achievement that could make ispace the first private company to accomplish the feat.
A Chinese Long March 2F rocket launched three astronauts into orbit from a remote launch site in the Gobi Desert of northwestern China at 10:08 a.m. EST (1508 GMT) Tuesday. The Shenzhou 15 astronauts are embarking on a half-year expedition on China’s Tiangong space station. Docking at the space station is expected about six hours after liftoff.