NASA’s moon mission “exceeded” expectations
Washington: On the third day after takeoff from Florida heading to the moon, NASA officials said Friday that the Orion spacecraft is “exceeding performance expectations.”
The Space ship It is to carry astronauts to the moon in the coming years – the first to set foot on its surface since the last Apollo mission in 1972.
This first test flight, without a crew on board, is intended to ensure the vehicle’s safety.
“We met today to review the performance of the Orion spacecraft… it has exceeded performance expectations,” said Artemis 1 mission chief Mike Sarafin.
The spacecraft’s four solar panels, which are about 13 feet (four meters) across, are properly deployed and deliver more power than expected, said Jim Jeffrey, Orion director at Johnson Space Center in Houston.
It is from this control center in Texas that the spacecraft is being piloted.
Orion is already 200,000 miles (320,000 km) from Earth and is preparing to perform the first of four major thrusts scheduled during the mission using its engines.
This maneuver, which will take place early Monday morning, will bring the spacecraft as close as 80 miles (130 kilometers) to the lunar surface, in order to take advantage of the moon’s gravitational pull.
Since this will happen on the far side of the Moon, NASA is expected to lose contact with the spacecraft for about 35 minutes.
“We’re going to pass over some of the Apollo landing sites,” said flight director Jeff Radigan, though it will be in the dark. NASA will release footage of the flyover.
Four days later, a second batch of engines will put Orion into distant lunar orbit.
The ship will soar up to 40,000 miles behind the Moon, which is a record for a habitable capsule.
It will then begin its journey back to Earth, where it is scheduled to touch down in the Pacific Ocean on December 11th, just over 25 days into the journey.
The success of this mission will determine the future of the Artemis 2 mission, which will take astronauts around the moon without landing, and then Artemis 3, which will finally determine the return of humans to the lunar surface.
These two missions are scheduled to take place in 2024 and 2025, respectively.
Sarafin also said on Friday that 10 accurate scientific satellites were deployed at the launch of the rocket, but half of them had technical or communications problems.
However, these experiments, which are being conducted separately by independent teams, will have no impact on the main mission.