As part of NASA's Artemis I mission, the extremely interesting and fascinating journey of the Orion spacecraft continues. On Monday, as planned, the spacecraft approached the Moon at a distance of 130 km. For a while, Orion was on the opposite side of the Moon, and contact with Earth, as expected, was lost.
Communication with NASA's Deep Space Network was restored at 07:59 EST (16:59 Armenia time) after the spacecraft successfully completed a long flight that included a 2 minute 30 second orbital maneuver—system engine to propel the spacecraft to speeds in excess of 580 mph (933.42 km/h). At the time of engine firing, the spacecraft was 328 miles (527.865 km) above the surface of the Moon and traveling at 5,023 miles per hour (8,083.74 km/h). Shortly after engine launch, Orion made its closest approach to the lunar surface at 81 miles (130 km) and flew at a speed of 5,102 miles per hour (8,210.87 km/h).
The flight with the launch of the Orbital Maneuvering System engine is the first of two maneuvers required to enter deep retrograde orbit around the Moon where the Orion spacecraft will enter on Friday using the European Service Module. Orion will remain in this orbit for about a week to test the systems, then it will approach the Moon even closer to about 40,000 miles (64,000 kilometers) before returning to Earth.
On December 28, the spacecraft will be at its greatest distance from Earth: 268,500 miles (432,108 kilometers).
The spacecraft will be in distant lunar orbit until December 1, after which the main engine will fire again to lift the spacecraft out of orbit and back toward Earth.
The spacecraft is expected to land in the Pacific Ocean on December 11, ending the Artemis I mission.