NASA’s Orion spacecraft has reached a record-breaking distance from Earth

NASA's Orion spacecraft has reached a record-breaking distance from Earth
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The Orion spacecraft, the backbone of NASA’s historic Artemis I mission, reached its furthest distance from Earth on Monday afternoon, breaking the record for the maximum distance ever traveled by a human spacecraft.

The space agency confirmed Monday evening that the Orion capsule had reached its midpoint its uncrewed mission around the moon – about 270,000 miles (434,523 kilometers) from Earth. That’s more than 40,000 miles (64,374 kilometers) from the far side of the Moon.

The previous record for the farthest distance traveled by a manned spacecraft was set during this period Apollo 13 mission in 1970. Indeed, this manned mission extended 248,655 miles (400,171 kilometers) from our home planet.

The purpose of the Artemis I mission started from Kennedy Space Center in Florida On November 16, Orion will test the capsule to its limits to ensure the vehicle is ready to safely carry humans. The test run is part of NASA’s broader Artemis program, which aims to return astronauts to the lunar surface for the first time since the 1970s.

Artemis I had a few hiccups – or “funny” – as Mission Manager Michael Sarafin refers to them – in this mission.

One of the problems involved Orion’s star tracker, a system that uses a map of space to tell engineers on the ground how the spacecraft is headed. Some of the data readings didn’t come back as expected, but NASA officials chalked that up to the learning curve that comes with operating a new spacecraft.

“We got through it and there was great leadership by the Orion team,” Sarafin said he said at a press conference held on November 18.

Orion program manager Howard Hu told reporters Monday evening that overall, the spacecraft’s performance was “spectacular.” The spacecraft exceeds expectations in some aspects, such as producing about 20% more power than it actually needs. I thought

Things are going so well that NASA is working on adding seven additional mission objectives designed to gather more information about the spacecraft’s capabilities and performance, Sarafin added.

The spacecraft is now expected to drift toward the Moon before firing its engines Thursday to exit its current trajectory and head back toward Earth. The Orion capsule is on its way to splash into the Pacific Ocean on December 11 off the coast of California.

Earth and its moon are seen from NASA's Orion spacecraft on Monday in this image provided by NASA.

“Artemis I was an extraordinary success and accomplished a number of history-making events,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said Monday. “Since launch, we’ve been recovering critical data, and there’s more to come. … The biggest challenge after launch is reentry, because we want to know that heat shield is operating at about 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit (2,760 degrees Celsius), almost half as hot as the sun, and coming at 32 times the speed of sound (about 40,000 km /hour).

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There is always risk until the spacecraft returns safely to Earth, Sarafin added. I noted that the risk of collision with orbital debris is an ever-present threat and will not disappear until the capsule re-enters the Earth’s atmosphere. And even then, Orion must deploy parachutes safely to ensure a gentle ocean splash.

After landing, NASA’s recovery craft will wait nearby to tow the Orion capsule to safety.

If the Artemis I mission is successful, NASA will then select a crew to fly the Artemis II mission, which could lift off in 2024. the moon, but does not land on its surface. Artemis III mission, right now It is planned to be released in 2025eventually, it’s expected to put the boots back on the moon, and NASA officials say that milestone will include the first woman and the first person of color.

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