Artemis 1, Orion’s capsule met the Moon up close – Space & Astronomy

The Orion capsule received the Moon in a flyby that brought it to about 130 kilometers from the surface: confirmation came from NASA, after the spacecraft exited the far side of the Moon, and reached a position from which it could resume contact with the Moon. Control Center. This maneuver marks the new crucial stage for the uncrewed Artemis 1 mission, which was launched on November 16 from Cape Canaveral and marks the beginning of the return to the moon, in light of future missions with astronauts.

After starting the engines at 13.44 Italian time, when it was on the dark side of the moon, the Orion capsule reached its minimum distance from the surface of the satellite 13 minutes later. Thanks to this maneuver, the vehicle has gained the necessary thrust to move away into a more distant orbit, which at 10.52 pm Italian time on November 25 will bring it to more than 432,000 km from Earth. The orbit in which Orion will then be found is called a distant retrograde orbit (Dro): it is retrograde because the capsule will move around the Moon in the opposite direction to that in which the Moon moves around the Earth, and it is far because it is high above the Moon’s surface. From that moment on, a week of tests will begin, the purpose of which will be to verify the functionality of the vehicle’s systems in light of future missions with the astronauts on board. All in all, by the time of the Moon’s flyby, Orion will have traveled more than 386,000 km, to which another 64,000 will be added when it reaches a distant retrograde orbit.

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Beautiful new pictures of Earth Captured by the Orion capsule, shortly after the capsule left the hidden part of the Moon and resumed communications with NASA’s ground control center. The images were taken from a distance of just over 370,000 km from our planet.

Earth imaged by the Orion capsule (Source: NASA TV)

Built by the American company Lockheed Martin, Orion reached the moon thanks to the energy provided by the service module provided by the European Space Agency (ESA) in which there are also a lot of Italian technologies, such as solar panels integrated in Italy Leonardo. Even the power distribution and control units were built in Italy by Leonardo, while Thales Alenia Space (joint venture Thales 67% and Leonardo 33%) took care of the structure and important subsystems of the unit, including protection against micrometeorites and thermal control.

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