NASA completes Artemis I lunar mission with Orion capsule splashdown
The Orion capsule crashes into the Pacific Ocean on December 11, 2022.
NASA’s Orion spacecraft crashed in the Pacific Ocean off Baja California, Mexico on Sunday, completing the agency’s Artemis 1 mission.
Just under 26 days after the launch of Artemis 1 on NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, its most powerful yet, the capsule is back. Entering Earth’s atmosphere at nearly 25,000 miles per hour, the intense re-entry process marked the final leg of the agency’s first lunar mission.
“This is the moment of truth for Orion,” NASA spokesman Rob Navias said during the agency’s live webcast, speaking from mission control in Houston, as the capsule was beginning its re-entry.
“America’s new ticket to the moon and beyond,” Navias later said.
Orion made a pair of close passes over the moon’s surface during the missions, representing an end-to-end test of the system that NASA hopes will bring astronauts back to the moon’s surface within the next few years.
While no astronauts were aboard Artemis 1, the nearly month-long journey around the moon is a vital demonstration for NASA’s lunar program.
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The mission represents a crucial inflection point in NASA’s lunar plans, with the program delayed for years and billions of dollars over budget. The Artemis program represents a series of missions with increasing objectives. The third – tentatively scheduled for 2025 – is expected to bring astronauts back to the lunar surface for the first time since the Apollo era.
The view of the Moon and Earth from the Orion capsule on November 28, 2022..