NASA’s spacecraft has successfully performed its first Moon flyby to pass within 130 kms of the lunar surface as part of the uncrewed Artemis 1 mission.
Artemis I is the first integrated flight test of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, an uncrewed Orion spacecraft.
According to NASA, spacecraft successfully completed its fourth orbital trajectory correction burn on its sixth day into the Artemis I mission using the auxiliary engines ahead the first of two manoeuvres required to enter a distant retrograde orbit around the Moon.
On the eighth day of its mission, it continues to travel farther away from the Moon as it prepares to enter a distant retrograde orbit. The orbit is “distant” in the sense that it’s at a high altitude from the surface of the Moon, and it’s “retrograde” because spacecraft will travel around the Moon opposite the direction the Moon travels around Earth.
This orbit provides a highly stable orbit where little fuel is required to stay for an extended trip in deep space to put Orion’s systems to the test in an extreme environment far from Earth.
The distant retrograde orbit insertion burn is the second in a pair of maneuvers required to propel Orion into the highly stable orbit that requires minimal fuel consumption while traveling around the Moon.
Spacecraft exited the gravitational sphere of influence of the Moon on Wednesday, 23 November 2022, at 9:19 am IST at a lunar altitude of 39,993 miles. It will reach its farthest distance from the Moon on Friday, 25 November 2022, just before performing the next major burn to enter the orbit.
The total distance covered by spacecraft is 216, 842 miles from Earth and was 13, 444 miles from the Moon, cruising at 3, 489 miles per hour.
“The mission continues to proceed as we had planned, and the ground systems, our operations teams, and the Orion spacecraft continue to exceed expectations, and we continue to learn along the way about this new, deep-space spacecraft, ” said Mike Sarafin, Artemis I mission manager.
Spacecraft will enter distant retrograde orbit beyond the Moon on Friday with the second manoeuvre, called the distant retrograde orbit insertion burn.
Orion will travel about 57, 287 miles beyond the Moon at its farthest point from the Moon on 25 November 2022, passing the record set by Apollo 13.
In upcoming year we would be seeing
In 2025, NASA plans to launch the first crewed Moon landings since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972. That will include the first woman and the first person of colour to walk on the Moon.
Artemis I will provide a foundation for human exploration in deep space and demonstrate NASA’s commitment and capability to extend human existence to the Moon and beyond.