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Welcome home, Orion! NASA concludes uncrewed Artemis I mission

Welcome home, Orion! NASA concludes uncrewed Artemis I mission
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NASA announced the launch of the Artemis I mission in July as the U.S. space agency celebrated 53 years of Apollo 11.

 

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or NASA, has successfully concluded its unmanned test mission – Artemis I after its Orion spacecraft splashed down in the Pacific on Sunday. The U.S. space agency launched the gigantic Space Launch System, the most powerful rocket in history, carrying the Orion spacecraft on November 16 from the Launch Complex 39B of the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

 

“NASA’s Orion spacecraft splashed down in the Pacific Ocean, west of Baja California, at 9:40 a.m. PST Sunday after a record-breaking mission, traveling more than 1.4 million miles on a path around the Moon and returning safely to Earth, completing the Artemis I flight test,” the space agency wrote in a blog. “Over the course of 25.5 days, NASA tested Orion in the harsh environment of deep space before flying astronauts on Artemis II.”

 

 

NASA announced the launch of the Artemis I mission in July as the U.S. space agency celebrated 53 years of Apollo 11, the country’s first spaceflight that landed humans on the Moon. With a motley crew of mannequins and biological experiments in the Artemis 1 mission, the U.S. wants to build a sustained human presence on the Earth’s only natural satellite, which should see the touchdown of the first woman and first person of color in the coming few years.

 

“With Orion safely returned to Earth we can begin to see our next mission on the horizon which will fly crew to the Moon for the first time as a part of the next era of exploration,” said Jim Free, NASA associate administrator for the Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate. “This begins our path to a regular cadence of missions and a sustained human presence at the Moon for scientific discovery and to prepare for human missions to Mars.”

 

The Orion spacecraft, which performed two lunar flybys and came within 80 miles of the lunar surface, will likely arrive at the shore on Dec. 13 with offload expected on Dec. 15, NASA said. To intentionally stress systems before flying the crew, the spacecraft traveled nearly 270,000 miles from the Earth. This is 1,000 times farther than where the International Space Station orbits Earth.

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