Tue, 22 Nov 2022 11:58 AM IST
NASA’s Artemis spacecraft which lifted off on Wednesday last week has successfully reached the moon. Notably, the Orion capsule which was carrying dummy humans has become the first capsule to visit the Moon orbit in the last 50 years. NASA’s Apollo was the last capsule that visited the moon 50 years ago.
The $4.1 billion spacecraft, which had a number of problems, including hydrogen leaks and other issues, has reportedly been on track since liftoff. The Orion spacecraft, which was swept 130 km above the lunar surface, is now starting to enter a larger orbit around the moon. However, a connection issue that persisted for 34 minutes was eventually resolved.
The spacecraft also transmitted some images of the earth from a distance of 370149.12 kilometres. The pictures show a tiny blue dot that seems a little underexposed.
NASA said in a statement that the mission exceeded expectations after the Orion passed 81 miles above the Moon at 5,102 mph.
"This is one of those days that you've been thinking about and dreaming about for a long, long time," NASA flight director Zebulon Scoville said. Adding on to that he said, “As we prepare to send humans back to the Moon in a few years, we just witnessed the Earth set behind the Moon this morning as we travelled around it in the next human-rated vehicle. This alters everything”.
#Artemis I, Flight Day 5. Orion spacecraft takes a selfie while approaching the Moon ahead of the outbound powered flyby - a burn of Orion's main engine on the @ESA service module. During this maneuver Orion came within 81 miles of the lunar surface. pic.twitter.com/93GkJ7Ubry— Orion Spacecraft (@NASA_Orion) November 22, 2022
The launch last week, according to Orion programme manager Howard Hu, was a historic day for human space flight. “It's the first step we're taking toward long-term deep space exploration, not just for the United States but for the entire world,” he told the BBC. “I believe that today is historic not only for NASA but also for everyone who supports human spaceflight and deep space exploration,” he added.