Officials say NASA’s Orion spacecraft is entering lunar orbit
Just over a week after the spacecraft launched from Florida to the Moon, the US space agency said on its website, “flight controllers have successfully executed a power-up to bring Orion into a remote retrograde orbit.”
The spacecraft will carry astronauts to the lunar surface in the next few years, in the first such mission since Apollo in 1972.
This first test flight, without a crew, seeks to ensure the vehicle’s safety.
NASA stated that “Orbiting far, Orion will fly about 40,000 miles (about 64,300 km) above the Moon.”
While in lunar orbit, the agency said, flight controllers will monitor key systems and perform checks in deep space.
Orion will take about a week to complete half an orbit around the Moon. Then it will leave orbit for the trip home, according to NASA.
On Saturday, the spacecraft is expected to fly within 40,000 miles above the Moon, a record for a habitable capsule.
The spacecraft is expected to return to Earth with a landing in the Pacific Ocean on December 11th.
The success of this mission will determine the future of the Artemis 2 mission, which will take astronauts around the moon without landing, and for Artemis 3, in which humans will finally set foot on the lunar surface.
These two missions are scheduled to take place in 2024 and 2025, respectively.
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