Artemis I passes 81 miles above the lunar surface before heading a record-breaking distance from Earth

Earth is seen setting on the far side of the Moon just beyond the Orion spacecraft in this video taken on day six of the Artemis I mission from a camera at the tip of one of Orion’s solar arrays. The spacecraft was preparing for the Outbound Powered Flyby maneuver that would have brought it within 80 miles of the lunar surface, the closest approach of the unmanned Artemis I mission, before moving into a distant retrograde orbit around the Moon. The spacecraft entered the lunar sphere of influence on Sunday, November 19. 20, making the Moon, instead of the Earth, the main gravitational force acting on the spacecraft.

Much like the James Webb Space Telescope, it took scientists and engineers years and multiple launch attempts to get the Artemis I SLS rocket and its Orion spacecraft into the air. After four launch attempts in two months, the most powerful rocket ever built by NASA successfully launched just last week. Now good things are coming for those who have been waiting: The mission is going full steam ahead, and soon the spacecraft will be farther from Earth than any other vehicle intended to carry humans has ever reached.

On Monday, Orion passed just 81 miles above the Moon’s surface while traveling at 2,128 mph. So close, yet so far away. A burn pushed that speed up to 5,102 mph as the spacecraft made its way onto the former Apollo 11, 12 and 14 landing sites, according to NASA. Here are some other facts and figures that will blow your mind:

Read more

Orion will travel approximately 57,287 miles past the Moon at its farthest point from the Moon on Nov. 2. 25, surpassed the Apollo 13-set record for the furthest distance traveled by a human-designed spacecraft at 248,655 miles from Earth on Saturday, Nov. 25. 26, and will reach its furthest distance from Earth of 268,552 miles on Monday, November 19. 28.

From Monday 1st Nov. 21, a total of 3,715.7 pounds of propellant was used, 76.2 pounds less than expected pre-launch values. There is 2,112.2 lbs of leeway over what was planned for use during the mission, an increase of 201.7 lbs over the pre-launch projected values.

Just after 2:45 pm CST on Nov. 19, 21, Orion had traveled 216,842 miles from Earth and was 13,444 miles from the Moon, traveling at 3,489 miles per hour.

The Artemis I mission is the first unmanned step to the moon for the United States. It will spend around 25 days making a few laps around the moon before returning to Earth. The Orion spacecraft and the new spacesuits on board will be pushed to their limits more than a quarter of a million miles from Earth. The next step, Artemis II, is scheduled for 2025 and will involve a four-person crewed flight around the moon and will take humans into farthest space ever. By 2026, we could have boots on the as yet unexplored lunar South Pole.

Image: NASA

Image: NASA

The goal of the Artemis missions is not just an opportunity to revisit the Moon, but to create a permanent orbiting Moon base that will allow astronauts to spend weeks or even months exploring the Moon as well as serve as a launch point for further exploration or our solar system.

Despite early SNAFUs delaying launches into August, September and October, Orion program manager Howard Hu told reporters on Monday that Artemis 1 flight “…continues to perform exceptionally well,” since New York Times:

Except for minor glitches — Mike Sarafin, the Artemis mission manager, called them “fun” — the Artemis I flight went smoothly. Pranks included Orion’s star trackers being momentarily confused when the spacecraft’s thrusters fired.

“We are on the sixth flight day of a 26-day mission,” said Mr. Sarafin said on Monday, “so I’d give it a cautiously upbeat A+.”

The flyby exercised the main part of Artemis which is not American. Parts of the Space Launch rocket were built by Boeing, Northrop Grumman and United Launch Alliance, while the Orion capsule itself was built by Lockheed Martin.

However, the service module – the part of Orion underneath the capsule that houses the thrusters, solar arrays, communications equipment and other supplies – was built by Airbus and was one of the European Space Agency’s contributions to the Artemis program . The module will not return to Earth, but will instead be jettisoned to burn in the atmosphere shortly before the capsule crashes.

The Orion spacecraft is expected to return to Earth on December 18. 11 crashing into the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California.

More from Jalopnik

Sign up for the Jalopnik newsletter. For the latest news, Facebook, Chirping and Instagram.

Click here to read the full article.

Leave a Comment

%d bloggers like this: