Leaving its distant retrograde orbit, NASA’s Artemis 1 mission returns to Earth
Artemis 1’s Orion spacecraft fired its main engine for about one minute and 45 seconds on December 2 to depart from a distant retrograde orbit of the Moon. In preparation for Orion’s splashdown in the Pacific Ocean on December 11, this engine burn is one of two manoeuvres required.
The spacecraft will then fly about 127 kilometers above the surface of the Moon on Monday, December 5. During this time, the mission teams continued to test the thermal capabilities of the star trackers. To determine Orion’s orientation in space, these star trackers measure the position of the stars.
We've left lunar orbit! @NASA_Orion fired its main engine today to exit distant retrograde orbit and set itself on a course for Earth. The burn is one of two maneuvers we'll make ahead of splashdown on Dec 11. Next up? Return powered fly by on Dec 5. https://t.co/3gPLuhoFxD pic.twitter.com/RHjM2ATsWY
— Jim Free (@JimFree) December 1, 2022
On Saturday, November 26, the Orion spacecraft broke the record for the farthest distance travelled by a human-rated spacecraft. It was previously held by the Apollo 13 spacecraft, which travelled 248,655 miles away from our planet. In the course of the mission, the halfway point was reached on November 29 (day 13).