According to officials, NASA’s Orion spacecraft successfully completed the long-delayed Moon mission on Friday and was deployed into lunar orbit.
Flight controllers “successfully completed a burn to place NASA’s Orion Spacecraft into a distant retrograde orbit,” the US space agency said on its website, just over a week after the spacecraft launched from Florida headed for the Moon.
The spacecraft will soon send humans to the Moon, the first people to do so since the final Apollo mission in 1972. The goal of this maiden test flight without a crew is to make sure the vehicle is secure.
According to NASA, Orion will fly 40,000 miles above the Moon because of the orbit’s distance. According to the agency, while in lunar orbit, flight controllers will keep an eye on important systems and conduct checkouts in the harsh environment of deep space. One-half of an orbit around the Moon will take Orion around a week to complete. According to NASA, it will then leave orbit and travel back to Earth.
The spacecraft is anticipated to go a record-breaking 40,000 kilometres beyond the Moon on Saturday. At 248,655 miles (400,171 kilometres) from Earth, the Apollo 13 spacecraft holds the current record.
After around 25 days of flight, it will start its return trip to Earth, with a landing in the Pacific Ocean planned for December 11. If this mission is a success, it will set the stage for Artemis 2, which will fly astronauts around the Moon without a landing, and Artemis 3, which would eventually bring people back to the lunar surface.
Both of those missions are slated to launch in 2024 and 2025.