NASA completes Artemis I lunar mission with Orion capsule crash

The Orion capsule lands on December 11, 2022 in the Pacific Ocean.

NASA television

NASA’s Orion spacecraft splashed in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja California, Mexico, on Sunday, ending the agency’s Artemis-1 mission.

Barely 26 days after the launch of Artemis 1 on NASA’s most powerful Space Launch System (SLS) rocket ever, the capsule is back. The intense re-entry process, which entered Earth’s atmosphere at a speed of nearly 40,000 km/h, marked the final step in the agency’s first lunar mission.

“This is the moment of truth for Orion,” NASA spokesman Rob Navias said on the agency’s live webcast, speaking from mission control in Houston as the capsule began reentry.

“America’s new ticket to the moon and beyond,” Navias later said.

Orion completed two close flights over the lunar surface during the missions, providing an end-to-end test of the system that NASA hopes will bring astronauts back to the lunar surface in the years to come.

Though no astronauts were aboard Artemis 1, the nearly month-long voyage around the moon is a crucial demonstration for NASA’s lunar program.

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The mission marks a critical turning point in NASA’s lunar plans, as the program is years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget. The Artemis program consists of a series of missions with escalating objectives. The third – tentatively scheduled for 2025 – is expected to bring astronauts back to the lunar surface for the first time since the Apollo era.

The view of the moon and earth from Orion’s capsule on November 28, 2022..


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