Leaving Earth last week, the Orion capsule flew over the Moon on Monday and was able to approach only 130 kilometers from the satellite.
After a superb “Earthlight”, here is a close-up of the dark side of the Moon. The Orion capsule approached about 130 kilometers (81 miles) from the far side of our satellite, NASA said on Twitter on Monday. A first for an unmanned and habitable mission.
Due to a half-hour communications blackout, flight controllers in Houston were unsure if the engine burn had gone well before the capsule emerged from behind the Moon, at 370,000 kilometers from Earth, reports the news agency Associated Press.
A 25 day mission
The speed of Orion reached more than 8000 kilometers per hour when contact was resumed, before the capsule flew over the Sea of Tranquility, where Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed in 1969, also notes AP.
The capsule will continue its mission, and will venture up to 64,000 km behind the only natural satellite – a record for a habitable capsule.
Artemis 1 is a test flight that will circle the Moon without landing there and without an astronaut on board. The mission, which should last 25 days in total, must confirm that the vehicle is safe for a future crew.
This flight marks the start of the Artemis program, which aims to send the first woman and the first person of color to the Moon. The goal is to establish a lasting human presence there, in preparation for a trip to Mars.