Pictures from the spacecraft show it leaving Earth and speeding back far side of the moon.
It’s the first time a human-made spacecraft has flown to the moon since the Apollo program ended 50 years ago.
NASA’s new Orion spacecraft Far from the far side of the Moon, it beams gorgeous images back to Earth.
space capsule Launched aboard a Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. On November 15, both the capsule and rocket are designed to return humans to the Moon for the first time since the last Apollo mission in 1972—reviving NASA’s lunar ambitions in a new program called Artemis. Both the capsule and the rocket were flying for the first time.
The rocket mission is completed, but Orion is now completing a 25-day trip around the Moon and back. The mission is called Artemis I and is a test flight to ensure the spacecraft can safely carry astronauts.
As Orion moved away from Earth, its camera returned to take a look at our planet.
Orion entered a “lunar sphere of influence” on Sunday, with the moon overtaking Earth as the primary gravitational force.
Then it passed over the moon on Monday, flying 81 miles above the lunar surface, passing three of the Apollo landing sites. The spaceship screamed at 5,102 miles per hour, then slowed down to hurtle through space at 3,489 miles per hour, according to NASA.
Now Orion is on the far side of the Moon. No human has experienced this view directly since the Apollo missions. But if Orion succeeds in its first flight, NASA plans to send it with astronauts next.
On Friday, Orion is scheduled to reach its farthest point from the Moon, at about 57,287 miles.
Then, on Monday, the spaceship should reach its furthest point from Earth, about 20,000 miles more than any spacecraft built to transport humans has ever traveled.
This mission is designed to test the limits of the spaceship. Orion carries three mannequins equipped with scientific instruments and sensors to measure acceleration, vibration, and radiation that could affect future passengers.
The moon’s gravity should push Orion back toward Earth, sending the spacecraft into a fiery fall through the atmosphere, which will test the ability of its heat shield to protect the occupants. Orion must then release its parachutes and drift into the splashing waters of the Pacific Ocean.
NASA plans to use the SLS, Orion, and SpaceX’s Starship to land astronauts on the moon again in 2025. Eventually, the agency plans to establish a permanent base on the lunar surface and build a new space station in lunar orbit.
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