- Rebecca Morelle
- Science correspondent, BBC News
NASA’s Artemis space mission approached the Moon and sent us a first image of the satellite.
The Orion capsule passed about 130 km from the lunar surface and will now enter a wider orbit.
Because this operation took place on the dark side of the moon, the rover was out of contact for 34 minutes during the maneuver, which officially began at 12:44 GMT.
NASA says the mission has so far “exceeded expectations” since its launch last week.
The program artemis It began Wednesday with liftoff of the most powerful rocket NASA has ever built, leaving the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The spacecraft propelled the Orion capsule on its way to the Moon. On his way he sent several selfies to the earth.
Since this is a test flight, it is not crewed by astronauts, but by three dummies, covered in thousands of sensors.
“The sensors have an idea of whether the environment is acceptable for humans,” explained NASA astronaut Zena Cardman.
“So there are things like radiation sensors, motion sensors, accelerometers, things that we as passengers care a lot about.”
And this is relevant because if this flight goes well, there will be astronauts on the next trip, but first orbiting the Moon and later a third mission will bring the first woman and the first person of color to the surface of the satellite.
NASA Flight Director Zebulon Scoville said: “This is one of those days you look forward to for a long, long time.”
“This morning we watched Earth disappear behind our natural satellite from the first vehicle capable of carrying humans around the moon, preparing to carry humans in a few years. This changes everything.”
The European Space Agency is also carefully monitoring the spacecraft. He has built the service module that provides power and propulsion for the Orion capsule.
The entity also has a passenger on board: Shaun the Sheep, the British stop-motion animated character. Shaun is buckled up for the ride. NASA’s mascot is Snoopy, who floats free in the cabin of the crew capsule.
After this close flyby that you just did, Orion will begin to move further and further away from the Moon.
On November 26, it is expected to break the Apollo 13 distance record when it reaches 400,171 km from Earth.
Two days later, it will have traveled more than 430,000 km from our planet, the farthest a spacecraft built to transport humans has ever gone.
After this, the capsule will begin its journey back home. It will first have a short return to the Moon and then to Earth. Its fall into the waters of the Pacific Ocean is scheduled for December 11.
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