November 16, 2022 was a memorable date, especially for NASA, when the liftoff of Artemis 1 finally, after years of hard work (and delays), marked the beginning of a new page for space exploration. During these hours, the Orion capsule reached its closest point to the Moon, and also set a certain record.
In fact, Orion entered the gravitational influence of our satellite on Sunday, November 20, about 5 days after the launch of the mission, and managed to reach 130 km from the lunar surface. Then, over the course of the next week, it will move away from the Moon by about 65,000 km.
This breakaway will bring the Orion spacecraft to More than 430,000 km from us, which actually exceeds the flight traveled by Apollo 13 by 60,000 km. A true record compared to any previous human spacecraft.
Zeb Scoville, NASA Flight Director enthused: “This is one of those days that you’ve been thinking about and dreaming about for a very long time. This morning we just watched the Earth behind the Moon, as we take our spacecraft into orbit, It’s preparing to bring humans back there in a few years, too. This is really a game changer.”.
It is necessary to remember how the Artemis mission was also made possible thanks to the efficacy Space launch systemwhich has become in all respects The most powerful rocket successfully launched into spaceThanks to the thrust of 4 million kg.
Before returning to Earth to splash water in the Pacific Ocean on December 11, the Orion capsule surfaced He will still have twenty days at his disposal To gravitate several times around the Moon in a far retrograde orbit, thus reversing the natural rotation of our satellite.
The importance of this mission, which we remember being a drone flight, will be crucial to the continuation of the Artemis project, as it aims to Proof of safety of the Orion capsule for humans.
In fact, not only would her hull have to protect her occupants from cosmic radiation, but her own as well The heat shield will also have to withstand extreme re-entry temperaturesNear 2,800°C, the spacecraft will approach Earth faster than any previously manned vehicle, until it reaches Mach 32 (about 40,000 km/h).
If all goes as planned, which is everyone’s hope, NASA can move forward Artemis IIFinally, the manned mission in lunar orbit was not expected before May 2024 Artemis IIIwhich will try Returning humans, including the first woman, to the lunar surfacebut not before 2025.
We remind you that you can follow the mission through the official NASA channel, with its live broadcast and images coming directly from the probe.
On the other hand, if you want to know more about NASA’s Artemis Missions, such as why they are pointing toward the lunar pole, we’ve dedicated a specific section of our site.