Artemis 1: NASA’s Orion spacecraft takes a selfie on its journey past the far side of the moon

Artemis 1: NASA’s Orion spacecraft takes a selfie on its journey past the far side of the moon


NASA released a selfie taken by the Orion capsule and close-up photos of the moon’s cratered landscape as the spacecraft continues on the Artemis 1 mission, a 25-and-a-half-day journey that will take it more than 40,000 miles beyond the far side of the moon.

Orion’s latest selfie, taken on Wednesday, the eighth day of the mission, by a camera on one of the capsule’s solar arrays, reveals the spacecraft giving angles with a bit of the moon visible in the background. The close-up photos were taken on Monday while Orion was doing his thing closest approach to the moonpassing about 80 miles (129 kilometers) above the lunar surface.

Should Orion complete its journey past the Moon and back to Earth, it will be the farthest a human-carrying spacecraft has ever traveled. For now, the capsule only carries her inanimate, scientist payloads

Orion is part of NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to establish a lunar outpost that can permanently host astronauts for the first time in history, with the hope of one day opening a route to Mars.

The Artemis I mission released on November 16when NASA’s beleaguered and delayed Space Launch System, or SLS, launched the Orion capsule into space, cementing the rocket as the most powerful operational launch vehicle ever built.

As of Thursday afternoon, the capsule was 222,993 miles (358,972 kilometers) from Earth and 55,819 miles (89,831 kilometers) from the moon, traveling at just over 2,600 miles per hour, according to NASA.

Orion is now about a day from entering a “distant retrograde orbit” around our nearest, distant neighbor, because it will be at a very high altitude above the lunar surface and retrograde, because it will circle the Moon in the direction opposite to which the moon travels the Earth.

The path is meant to “stress test” the Orion capsule, as Michael Sarafin, NASA’s Artemis mission manager, said last week.

Seconds NASA’s Artemis Blogagency television coverage of the far retrograde orbit insertion burn is scheduled for 4:30 pm ET on Friday and the burn is scheduled for 4:52 pm ET.

After skimming the Moon, the Orion capsule is expected to return to Earth and make a soft landing in the Pacific Ocean on December 11.

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