NASA's Orion spacecraft is about to set a distance record from Earth

NASA’s Orion spacecraft is about to set a distance record from Earth


Ten days after launching from Kennedy Space Center, NASA’s Orion spacecraft entered a deep orbit around the Moon on Friday, achieving another key milestone in a mission that space agency officials say will s has gone extremely well so far.

Orion’s thrusters fired at 4:52 p.m. Eastern Time for 1.5 minutes, placing the craft in orbit some 40,000 to 50,000 miles above the lunar surface. This orbit will put Orion on track to break the record for the furthest distance from Earth traveled by “a spacecraft designed to carry humans to deep space and safely return to Earth.” The current record of 248,655 miles was set by Apollo 13 in 1970, NASA said in a statement.

Orion is expected to surpass that at 7:42 a.m. Eastern Time Saturday. The spacecraft is expected to reach its maximum distance of more than 270,000 miles from Earth at 4:13 p.m. Eastern Time Monday, NASA said.

The distant orbit, which requires little fuel to maintain, will allow Orion to test its systems to see how the vehicle performs. The orbit is so large, however, that the craft will only complete about half an orbit in six days before beginning its flight back to Earth.

The flight, without any astronauts on board, is the first step in NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to bring astronauts back to the lunar surface for the first time since the Apollo missions of the late 1960s and early 1970s .

Using cameras mounted on the outside of the spacecraft, Orion sent back spectacular images and live video of its journey. including spectacular images of Earth, seen suspended in the distance, more than 200,000 miles away, in the vast inky darkness of space.

If the current mission, known as Artemis I, goes well, NASA is planning a second flight, this time with astronauts on board, as soon as 2024. This mission, known as Artemis II, would also be orbiting the moon, landing with humans. come next.

“The mission continues to proceed as planned, and ground systems, our operational teams and the Orion spacecraft continue to exceed expectations,” Mike Sarafin, the mission’s Artemis I mission manager, said this week. Nasa. “And we continue to learn about this new deep spacecraft along the way.”

He said the Space Launch System rocket, even more powerful than the Apollo-era Saturn V, performed so well that the results were “appetizing”. Its massive thrust, however, damaged its mobile launch tower, including blowing up the tower’s elevator doors. But, overall, “the structure itself held up well,” Sarafin said.

After Orion completes half an orbit around the moon, it will launch around the moon towards home.

One of the main tests will take place when the spacecraft re-rent Earth’s atmosphere, traveling at around 25,000 mph. Friction with thickening air will produce temperatures as high as 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

The spacecraft is expected to crash into the Pacific Ocean off San Diego on December 11.

Although there are no actual astronauts aboard the Artemis I mission, there is a dummy named Moonikin Campos who sits in the commander’s seat of the Orion spacecraft. It is equipped with a suit and sensors to provide information on what the journey will be like for future astronauts.

The seat has two sensors to record acceleration and vibration. The spacesuit has sensors to record radiation levels.

The name “Moonikin” was chosen in a public competition. Campos was chosen in honor of Arturo Campos, a former NASA engineer who played a key role in the recovery of the Apollo 13 spacecraft after the mission went wrong.

Two mannequin torsos also overlap. Named Zohar and Helga, they are made from materials that, according to NASA, “mimicking human bones, soft tissues and organs of an adult female.” (Women are thought to be more susceptible to radiation exposure than men.)

They also have sensors to measure radiation. Zohar has a radiation vest, but Helga doesn’t.

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