NASA’s Orion spacecraft now more than half way to the Moon
NASA's Artemis I Orion spacecraft is now more than halfway to the Moon. The uncrewed spaceship lifted off Wednesday, November 16, 2022, from Launch Complex 39B at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
On Friday, the third day of the Artemis I mission, NASA's Orion maneuvered its solar arrays and captured the Moon with a camera mounted on the end of the array.
"Today, we met to review the Orion spacecraft performance, and it is exceeding performance expectations," Mike Sarafin, Artemis I mission manager said in a statement on Friday.
Yesterday, @NASA_Orion manoeuvred its solar arrays and captured the Moon as seen here with a camera mounted on the end of the array. The #Artemis I spacecraft is now over halfway to the Moon. @NASAArtemis @AirbusSpace @AirbusDS_NL @BeyondGravity_S @esaspaceflight #OrionESM pic.twitter.com/WjZDXIOT3C— ESA (@esa) November 19, 2022
On Monday, November 21, the spacecraft will perform a powered flyby of the Moon to set itself on a distant retrograde orbit (DRO) beyond the Moon. According to NASA, DRO provides a highly stable orbit where little fuel is required to stay for an extended trip in deep space to put Orion's systems to the test in an environment far from Earth.
"DRO is highly stable because of its interactions with two points of the planet-moon system where objects tend to stay put, balanced between the gravitational pull of two large masses – in this case, the Earth and Moon – which allows a spacecraft to reduce fuel consumption and remain in position while traveling around the Moon," according to a post by NASA.
During the outbound powered flyby, Orion will make its closest approach – approximately 80 miles – above the lunar surface. Four days later, another burn using the European Service Module will insert it into distant retrograde orbit, where it will remain for about a week to test spacecraft systems.