NASA’s Orion spacecraft captured and sent back imagery of the Earth and Moon together as the spacecraft reached the farthest distance that it will travel away from our planet during the mission—268,563 miles, or about 432,210 kilometres. Earlier, the spacecraft beat a record set by the Apollo 13 mission.
Orion passed the milestone at 2.30 AM IST on November 29, day 13 of the mission, which is also its halfway point. The spacecraft is continuing to work as expected and continues its journey in a distant retrograde orbit, which takes it thousands of kilometres beyond the Moon.
According to NASA, it had originally planned to conduct an orbital maintenance burn on November 28 but deemed it unnecessary because Orion was already in a precise trajectory. The space agency says that 37.5 per cent of the Artemis 1 mission’s test objectives have either been completed or are in the process of being completed. Many of the remaining objectives will be evaluated during Orion’s entry, descent, splashdown and recovery.
Based on the spacecraft’s performance, mission managers are now exploring the option of adding seven more test objectives that will further characterise Orion’s thermal performance and propulsion system to further reduce risk before future crewed missions.
In the meanwhile, the space agency’s Exploration Ground Systems and the US Navy are beginning initial operations to recover the spacecraft once it splashes down in the Pacific ocean. The recovery team will conduct training operations at sea on November 29 as part of the final preparations for recovery.