(Updated) Watch NASA's uncrewed Orion spacecraft as it passes close to the Moon today
NASA's Artemis I spacecraft, Orion, is gearing up for an outbound powered lunar flyby on Monday, November 21, during which the spacecraft will pass within 80 miles (130 km) of the lunar surface.
Orion is enroute to the Moon as the first mission of the Artemis program. The uncrewed spaceship lifted off Wednesday, November 16, 2022, from Launch Complex 39B at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
According to the agency, Orion's outbound powered flyby will begin at 7:44 a.m. while its lunar closest approach will happen at 7:57 a.m. This burn is the first of a pair of maneuvers required to enter a distant retrograde orbit (DRO) around the Moon. 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.
The mission engineers expect to lose communication with Orion as it passes behind the Moon for approximately 34 minutes starting at 7:26 a.m. The agency's Deep Space Network (DSN) will acquire the spacecraft once it emerges from behind the Moon.
At 1:25 p.m. CST on Nov. 20, Orion had traveled 232,683 miles from Earth and was 39,501 miles from the Moon, cruising at 371 miles per hour.
The spacecraft will perform the distant retrograde orbit insertion burn on November 25, using the European Service Module and will remain in this orbit for about a week to test spacecraft systems.
Orion successfully performed the outbound powered flyby burn at 7:44 a.m. EST and thereafter re-acquired signal with NASA's Deep Space Network, at 7:59 a.m. EST. According to NASA, the spacecraft was more than 230,000 miles from Earth at the time of the lunar flyby.