Watch NASA’s Orion capsule pass 80 miles from the Moon starting at 7:15 AM


NASA’s Artemis I mission will hit a key milestone today as the Orion capsule makes its “outbound powered flyby” of the Moon, getting as close as 80 miles to the surface. The burn is the first of two maneuvers required to enter what’s known as a “distant retrograde orbit” (DRO) around the Moon. During the flyby, cameras inside and outside the spacecraft will document the view, with shots of the Moon, Earth and Orion itself. “It’s going to be spectacular,” said lead flight director Rick LaBrode. 

The flyby is “the big burn that will actually move Orion and send it toward the planned distant retrograde orbit” that allows it to burn less fuel, LaBrode said earlier. “DRO allows Orion to spend more time in deep space for a rigorous mission to ensure spacecraft systems, like guidance, navigation, communication, power, thermal control and others are ready to keep astronauts safe on future crewed missions,” said Artemis mission manager Mike Sarafin.

The capsule’s service module ICPS engine, developed by the European Space Agency (ESA), will fire for 2 minutes and 30 seconds. As Orion passes behind the Moon, engineers will lose contact for approximately 34 minutes starting at 7:26 AM. It will spend 6 to 19 days in DRO to collect data and allow mission controllers to assess spacecraft performance, according to the space agency. 

So far, the mission has gone mostly to plan. However, two “active anomaly resolution teams” are investigating faults in the star tracker system’s random access memory and a malfunctioning power conditioning and distribution unit. “Both systems are currently functioning as required, and there are no mission impacts related to these efforts,” NASA said. 

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