NASA has released a video (above) featuring highlights from its successful Artemis I mission, which ended on Sunday with the homecoming of the Orion spacecraft.
The video tells the story of the historic mission, which used NASA’s next-generation Space Launch System (SLS) rocket to propel the uncrewed Orion on a journey around the moon before returning to Earth.
During the voyage, Orion used its onboard cameras to beam back amazing imagery of the moon and Earth, some of which appears in NASA’s highlights video.
Artemis I was a test mission as part of preparations for the crewed Artemis II flight that will take the same path, possibly in 2024, and a crewed lunar landing, expected to take place in 2025 or 2026.
“From launch to splashdown, NASA’s Orion spacecraft completed its first deep-space mission with a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean, west of Baja California, at 9:40 a.m. PT (12:40 p.m. ET) Sunday,” NASA said in a message accompanying the video.
During its 25-day mission, the Orion capsule traveled more than 1.4 million miles, entering a distant orbit around the moon that involved two flybys that took the vehicle to within just 80 miles of the lunar surface.
NASA’s spacecraft also set a new record for the furthest distance traveled from Earth by a human-rated spacecraft, and remained in space longer than any astronaut-ready capsule without docking to an orbital outpost such as the International Space Station (ISS).
The mission ended in dramatic fashion on Sunday when the Orion spacecraft endured temperatures of around 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit as it entered Earth’s atmosphere at a speed of almost 25,000 mph before slowing to about 20 mph for a parachute-assisted splashdown.
“The splashdown of the Orion spacecraft, which occurred 50 years to the day of the Apollo 17 moon landing, is the crowning achievement of Artemis I,” NASA chief Bill Nelson said on Sunday following Orion’s homecoming. “From the launch of the world’s most powerful rocket to the exceptional journey around the moon and back to Earth, this flight test is a major step forward in the Artemis Generation of lunar exploration.”
Looking further ahead, NASA is planning to build the first permanent base on the lunar surface, where astronauts will be able to live and work in a similar way to how they do today on the ISS. The moon could even act as a launch point for the first crewed missions to Mars, which could take place in the 2030s.
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