NASA’s Artemis 1 Orion spacecraft is coming home.
The unmanned Orion spaceship successfully completed a moon descent on Thursday (December 1) to begin the journey home after successful completion moon orbits. The cremation began at 4:54 p.m. EST (2154 GMT) and lasted just under two minutes, according to NASA television commentator Shaneequa Vereen.
“Orion had a successful and nominal retrograde departure 1 minute and 45 seconds away,” Vereen announced during the agency’s broadcast of the burn. The spacecraft’s solar panels gently rocked back and forth as “tiny” on NASA Television’s live broadcast. Earth‘ glowed in the background.
Orion now begins his ten-day journey home. If all goes according to plan, the capsule will land off the coast of California in the Pacific Ocean on December 11th. 11. NASA and the United States Navy have already begun training for the salvage operation that will mark the end of the Artemis 1 mission.
Live Updates: NASA’s Artemis 1 lunar mission
Orion launched on NASA’s massif space launch system (SLS) rocket in a fiery display on February 11. On February 16, the space agency’s highly anticipated Artemis-1 lunar mission will launch.
The mission is the first in the agency’s Artemis program, which aims to establish a sustainable manned lunar outpost near the moon’s south pole by the end of the decade.
The first Artemis mission was intended as a test for both the SLS vehicle and the Orion spacecraft to ensure that both are airworthy and safe to launch human crews into space. If Artemis 1 goes as planned, the next mission, Artemis 2will put astronauts in orbit around the moon in 2024. NASA will then not return astronauts to the moon until 2025 at the earliest Artemis 3.
“The first launch of the Space Launch System rocket was just breathtaking,” said Artemis Mission Manager Mike Sarafin. “In any event, while our mission with Orion is still ongoing and we continue to learn about the course of our flight, the rocket’s systems performed as planned and as expected,” he added.
Orion, meanwhile, has also thrived beautifully in every way. A major milestone, the insertion of the spacecraft into a distant retrograde orbit around the moon, was on nov 25.
With today’s fire, Orion now has a long and lonely journey home and will no doubt be sent home beautiful pictures and recordings as was the case during his previous flight.