After the Orion spacecraft broke a world record set by the Apollo 13 mission, the European Space Agency (ESA) shared footage of the Artemis 1 launch taken from an unusual angle. The ESA footage of the launch was taken from a camera onboard the Orion spacecraft and offers a top-down view of the launch.
In the top-down footage that looks down at the launchpad, we can see the SLS (Space Launch System) rocket’s engine firing up to carry the Orion spacecraft into a trajectory towards the Moon. The video is about 3 minutes and 33 seconds long but the actual launch begins at around the three-minute mark, so you can skip to that point if you just want to see the launch.
On the twelfth day of its mission (November 27), NASA Artemis 1 team members conducted another planned test of the star trackers on the Orion spacecraft. The spacecraft continued along its distant retrograde orbit of the Moon and began another reaction control thruster flight test.
The star tracker test was conducted so that engineers can characterise the alignment between the star trackers and the spacecraft’s inertial measurement unit. Star trackers are navigation tools that measure help the spacecraft determine its orientation by measuring the position of stars. The inertial measurement unit contains three devices to measure the spacecraft’s body rotation rates and three accelerometers used to measure spacecraft acceleration.
The Orion spacecraft’s vehicle management computers use data from both its star tracker and its inertial measurement unit to calculate its position, velocity and attitude. Accurately tracking the spacecraft’s navigation will help reduce the amount of propellant required for manoeuvres.