NASA’s unmanned mission called Artemis 1 made history Monday as the Orion spacecraft reached the furthest distance ever achieved by any spacecraft from Earth: 434,522 kilometers (270,000 miles). In this way, he surpassed the record distance of Apollo 13, as this day marked the halfway point of the trip that began in Florida on November 16.
Rick Labrode, Artemis I flight director, confirmed in a press conference held at the Johnson Space Center in Houston (Texas), that at 4:06 p.m. “an important milestone” was met with the distance reached by Orion and its three mannequins on board, since they left the Kennedy Space Center, in Cape Canaveral.
The Orion capsule, traveling at 5,102 mph (8,200 km/hour), thus broke the record for farthest distance traveled from Earth by any spacecraft designed to be crewed by humans, according to NASA.
While flying in a distant lunar retrograde orbit, meaning it is far from the Moon and in orbit opposite that satellite’s path around Earth, the Orion spacecraft continues to transmit live, high-resolution images.
According to Space.com, the new images represent the highest-definition live view from beyond the Moon to date, although several Apollo missions have broadcast from that area in the 1960s and 1970s, it added.
“Artemis is paving the way to live and work in deep space in a hostile environment and ultimately bring humans to Mars,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.
On the thirteenth day of the flight of the Artemis 1 mission, after having traveled hundreds of thousands of kilometers around the Moon in the Orion spacecraft, the ship’s commander, the mannequin Moonikin Campos, assured via Twitter that he had had “a very busy day ” taking selfies with the moon in the background and collecting data from lunar orbit.
The mannequin, which at the same time is a superhero in a NASA comic, takes its name in honor of the American Arturo Campos, an electrical engineer of Mexican origin who was “fundamental” in saving the crew of Apollo 13, according to the US space agency.
Last Friday, Orion entered a distant lunar orbitwhere the spacecraft will stay for about a week to test various systems in a deep space environment, some 40,000 miles above the lunar surface, before beginning the return journey to Earth.
A week ago, the mission reached another important milestone, its closest lunar approach, flying just 80 miles (128 km) above the lunar surface.
Orion is scheduled to return to Earth on December 11 with a splashdown off the coast of California, in the Pacific Ocean, after a journey of 25 days, 11 hours and 36 minutes, according to NASA data.
The general objective of the Artemis program is to establish a base on the Moon as a previous step to reach Mars in the future. To do this, after Artemis I, NASA will launch Artemis II into lunar orbit in 2024, with a crew. The takeoff of Artemis III is expected in 2025, a mission in which the astronauts, including a woman, would touch the ground of the satellite.
Artemis 1 and a delayed game
NASA had to delay the departure of the mission four times, twice for technical reasons and another two for meteorological reasons. After some setbacks of a mechanical and meteorological nature -which forced the launch to be postponed four times- NASA’s Artemis I mission took off on wednesday the 16th of this monthat 3.47 in the morning, Argentina time.
The green light was confirmed after the day’s inspections revealed no structural damage, following Hurricane Nicole’s passage through Florida. Hours before takeoff, the fuel tank of the Space Launch System (SLS), the monumental rocket in charge of putting the mission underway, was filled.
Meanwhile, NASA channels began to broadcast content related to the operation ten hours in advance, including any news on the status and evolution of the mission.
Artemis departed from Launch Complex 39B at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, United States, with an inclination of 28.5 degrees toward the Equator.
Finally, the most powerful and largest of all NASA rockets, taller than a 30-story building (322 feet or 98 meters), SLS lifted off from Florida propelling Orion. Billed as an uncrewed flight test, Artemis I is the first in a series of “increasingly complex” missions to develop a long-term human presence on the Moon for decades to come.
How was the launch
Upon completion of the launch, the thrusters detached and the launch system core stage separated from the spacecraft, leaving Orion attached to an Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage (ICPS) that will propel it toward the Moon.
Is about a maneuver known as a “translunar injection” with which a point around the satellite is precisely aimed to guide Orion close enough to be captured by lunar gravity.
Two hours after departure, Orion will separate from this stage to continue on its way to the Moon powered by a module from the European Space Agency (ESA) that will correct course if necessary along the way.
With information from EFE.