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Nasa’s Orion Capsule Breaks Distance Record On Artemis I Mission!

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Nasa's Orion capsule breaks distance record on Artemis I mission

In a significant achievement, the Orion spacecraft, which forms an integral part of NASA’s historic Artemis I mission, reached its farthest distance from earth on November 28th afternoon. Orion broke all previous distance records for a human-carrying spacecraft.

As per the confirmation by the US space agency on Monday evening, the Orion capsule had reached the midpoint of its mission around the moon, nearly 430,000km (270,000 miles) beyond the earth. During this flight, the ship was uncrewed. If the present mission goes smoothly, the next mission will be in two years.

The Oustanding Performance Of Orion Capsule

Nasa is also planning for a slew of more complex missions with Orion. All of them are part of the US space agency’s Artemis program, working towards the goal of returning human beings to the lunar surface, after a long gap of 50 years.

Nasa's Orion capsule breaks distance record on Artemis I mission

With this remarkable achievement, the Orion spacecraft has broken the previous record of Apollo 13’s mission in 1970 for the furthest distance a human-rated spacecraft has traveled till date. Apollo 13 traveled 400,171 kilometres (248,655 miles) from Earth without any humans on board.

Mike Sarafin, Nasa’s Artemis mission manager, commented on the Orion spacecraft’s feat by stating that the halfway point in fact teaches them to number their days so that they can get a heart of wisdom. He went on to add that the halfway point gives them an opportunity to step back and review what their margins are and areas where they could work in a smarter way to buy down risk and get to know more about the spacecraft’s performance for crewed flight on the very next mission.

It was on November 16th that the Orion capsule was launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. During this 26-day mission, the systems were stretched to ensure that it is safe to carry humans. A service module provided by the European Space Agency (ESA) is enabling Orion to push through space. This vehicle is built with the big thrusters necessary to make maneuvers. Last week, the ESA module performed two engine burns that will help Orion orbit the moon. This is generally referred to as a Distant Retrograde Orbit. The path takes Orion 61,000 km (38,000 miles) from the Moon’s surface. The term “retrograde” comes from the feature of sending the spacecraft in the opposite direction to the lunar body’s travel direction.

There have been minor technical glitches which Sarafin describes as “funnies”. One such problem was with Orion’s star tracker. This technique uses a cosmic map to tell engineers how the spaceship is orientated. As per the expectations, some data readings were not coming back. However, NASA officials attributed that problem to a learning curve that generally happens while operating a new spacecraft. Sarafin noted the Orion team showed tremendous leadership at a press conference on November 18.

As per the current plans, the first crewed Artemis mission is scheduled for the end of 2024. It is expected that an Orion flight carrying astronauts that goes down to the lunar surface would happen by 2025 or 2026.

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