To infinity and beyond.
NASA’s Artemis I mission set an outstanding record for space travel, as its Orion capsule traveled “farther than any other spacecraft built for humans”.
The unmanned spacecraft reached 268,563 miles from Earth on Monday, the 13th day of the 25.5-day mission that is part of NASA’s lunar exploration program. Entering the story, Orion took an amazing photo of the Earth and Moon as it cruised at a rapid speed of 1,679 mph.
“Due to the incredible spirit of dynamism, Artemis I was extraordinarily successful and completed a series of historic events,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a statement. “It’s amazing how well this mission went, but it’s a test. That’s what we do – we test it and we highlight it.
The latest benchmark for the furthest distance traveled by a spacecraft intended for humans was set by Apollo 13 in 1970, when the manned craft rocketed 248,655 miles into our galaxy.
Now, 50 years after the end of the Apollo mission, Team Artemis I challenges Orion for future missions that, in theory, will include a crew. As they approach the halfway point, the flight controllers have completed at least 37% of the mission objectives.
“The imagery was crazy,” Rick LaBrode, principal flight director for the Artemis I mission, said Monday during a live press conference. “It’s really hard to express how I feel. It’s really amazing to be here and see that.
But breaking a record doesn’t mean the mission is over. Orion still needs to complete several goals, including completing orbit around the moon, re-entering Earth’s atmosphere, and surviving the landing. It is scheduled to land in the Pacific Ocean on December 11 after nearly 26 days in space.
Simply getting Orion off the ground encountered a few hiccups. Natural disasters, such as hurricanes Nicole and Ian, delayed the launch of the Artemis I mission, as did unexpected fuel leaks.
After years of setbacks, however, the rocket launched Nov. 16 from Kennedy Space Center.
Once the capsule managed to begin its journey into space, the mission ran into a problem with Orion’s star tracker, a map of the solar system that communicates its orientation to engineers on the ground, and data n did not arrive as expected.
“We worked through this, and there was great leadership from the Orion team,” said mission manager Michael. Sarafin also said at Monday’s press conference.
Now that Orion is back on track and performing better than expected, the mission team plans to add seven more goals to challenge the spacecraft before piloting a manned mission.
Artemis I is the first in a series of “increasingly complex missions” intended to “build a long-term human presence on the moon” over decades. His goal is to challenge Orion’s systems and ensure a safe journey before the first flight crew on Artemis II.
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