On flight day 13 of the Artemis I mission, NASA’s Orion spacecraft reached its maximum distance from Earth. At 268,563 miles away from earth on Monday, Orion has now traveled farther than any other spacecraft built for humans.
The spacecraft also captured imagery of Earth and the Moon together throughout the day, including of the Moon appearing to eclipse Earth.
Reaching the halfway point of its 25.5 day mission, the spacecraft remains in healthy condition, NASA said. It continues its journey in distant retrograde orbit, an approximately six-day leg of its larger mission thousands of miles beyond the Moon.
“Because of the unbelievable can-do spirit, Artemis I has had extraordinary success and has completed a series of history making events,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “It’s incredible just how smoothly this mission has gone, but this is a test. That’s what we do – we test it and we stress it,” he added.
Engineers had originally planned an orbital maintenance burn Monday but determined it was not necessary because of Orion’s already precise trajectory in distant retrograde orbit.
Based on Orion’s performance, managers are examining adding seven additional test objectives to further characterize the spacecraft’s thermal environment and propulsion system to reduce risk before flying future missions with crew. To date, flight controllers have accomplished or are in the process of completing 37.5 percent of the test objectives associated with the mission, with many remaining objectives set to be evaluated during entry, descent, splashdown, and recovery.
Meanwhile, NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems team and the U.S. Navy are beginning initial operations for recovery of Orion when it splashes down in the Pacific Ocean. The team will deploy Tuesday for training at sea before return to shore to make final preparations ahead of splashdown.
More than 2,000 files have been sent so far from the spacecraft to Earth, according to the U.S, space agency.
As per the latest report, Orion was 268,457 miles away from Earth and 43,138 miles away from the Moon, cruising at 1,679 miles per hour.
The 322-foot-tall stack, consisting of the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft, lifted off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on November 16.
The launch is the first leg of a mission in which Orion is planned to travel approximately 40,000 miles beyond the Moon and return to Earth over the course of 25 days.
The Artemis I test flight with no crew on board is aimed at laying the foundation for a sustained long-term human presence on and around the Moon.
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