NASA and ESA release highlights of Artemis 1 mission, from launch to landing

December 15, 2022  20:29

The U.S. (NASA) and European Space Agency (ESA) have independently released video clips of the most notable and important moments of the Artemis 1 unmanned mission to the Moon, from rocket launch to landing of the Orion spacecraft in the Pacific Ocean.

The video released by NASA is more detailed and longer, but both videos are about the same thing: how the 2022 SLS rocket launched the Orion spacecraft from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on November 16, secured its flight to the Moon, and then Orion flew to a distant lunar orbit and returned to Earth on December 11. There hasn't been a mission like this in fifty years.

You can watch the NASA video below:

One of the main purposes of the Artemis 1 mission was to test the SLS rocket in preparation for future human missions to the Moon, as well as to test the Orion unmanned spacecraft. On Orion, the astronauts have been replaced this time by mannequins equipped with special sensors that will record acceleration, vibration and, most importantly, radiation levels to understand how they might affect humans and equipment.

During the flyby, Orion approached the Moon twice to a distance of about 128 km from its surface, but spent most of its time in a far lunar orbit, up to 63,374 km from the Moon's surface. During that time, the spacecraft was also at a distance of 434,523 km from Earth, a record distance for manned spacecraft from Earth. This was done to collect radiation data in an area where the Earth's magnetic field does not protect instruments and pilots from radiation.

You can watch the video made by the European Space Agency below:

During the mission, the Orion spacecraft traveled 2.25 million kilometers, spent 25.5 days in space and began its descent into Earth's atmosphere on December 11. During its descent, Orion was heated to 2,760°C. A heat shield and then parachutes helped reduce the speed from 32,100 km/h to 32 km/h. The spacecraft successfully passed the test, entering the Earth's atmosphere for the first time in more than 50 years at "interplanetary" speeds, significantly exceeding the speed of orbital flight. The last 10 minutes of the NASA video are dedicated to this very moment.

The Artemis 1 mission will be followed in 2024 by Artemis 2, which will take astronauts to lunar orbit, but there are no plans to land on the lunar surface as part of that mission. The Artemis 3 mission crew will be able to land on the Moon, but it won't happen until 2025. The second landing of astronauts on the satellite of the Earth is expected in 2027. For both missions, NASA has chosen the SpaceX Starship spacecraft.

In the Artemis 1 mission, the Orion spacecraft took video of Earth and the Moon from deep space and took stunning photos of the Moon. 

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