“Exceeding Expectations” – Orion Spacecraft Conducts First Inspection

On the third day of the Artemis I mission, Orion maneuvered its solar arrays and captured the Moon with a camera mounted on the end of the array. The spacecraft is now halfway to the Moon. Credit: NASA

On the third day of its Artemis I journey, NASA’s uncrewed Orion spacecraft is now more than halfway to the Moon.

“Today, we met to review the Orion spacecraft performance, and it is exceeding performance expectations,” said Mike Sarafin, Artemis I mission manager.

Flight controllers used Orion’s cameras on Friday to inspect the crew module thermal protection system and European Service Module. This was the first of two planned external evaluations for the spacecraft. Teams conducted this survey early in the mission to provide detailed images of the spacecraft’s external surfaces after it has flown through the portion of Earth’s orbit where the majority of space debris resides.

The second inspection is required during the return phase to assess the overall condition of the spacecraft several days before re-entry. During both inspections, the Integrated Communications Officer, or INCO, commands cameras on the four solar array wings to take still images of the entire spacecraft, allowing experts to pinpoint any micrometeoroid or orbital debris strikes. The team in mission control at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston will review the imagery following the survey.

Artemis All Access is your look at the latest in Artemis I, the people and technology behind the mission, and what is coming up next. This uncrewed flight test around the Moon will pave the way for a crewed flight test and future human lunar exploration as part of Artemis. Credit: NASA

Over the past few days, a team assessed anomalous star tracker data that correlated with thruster firings. Star trackers are sensitive cameras that take pictures of the star field around Orion. By comparing the pictures to its built-in map of stars, the star tracker can determine which way Orion is oriented. Teams now understand the readings and there are no operational changes.

NASA also has received updates from teams associated with the 10 CubeSats that were delivered to space on a ring attached to the Space Launch System rocket’s upper stage. All 10 CubeSats were successfully deployed via timer from the adapter. The CubeSats’ individual missions are separate from Artemis I. The small satellites, each about the size of a shoebox, are inherently high-risk, high-reward and the teams are in various stages of mission operations or troubleshooting in some cases.

NASA hosted a briefing (see video embedded below) on Friday previewing Orion’s arrival to the lunar sphere of influence. To follow the mission real-time, you can track Orion during its mission around the Moon and back, and check the NASA TV schedule for updates on the next televised events. The first episode of Artemis All Access is now available (see video embedded above) as a recap of the first three days of the mission with a look ahead to what’s coming next.

From NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, NASA previews the Orion spacecraft’s entry into the Moon’s sphere of influence and the pair of maneuvers that will propel the spacecraft into a distant retrograde lunar orbit. Briefing participants include:

  • Mike Sarafin, Artemis I mission manager, NASA Headquarters
  • Jeff Radigan, flight director, NASA Johnson
  • Jim Geffre, Orion vehicle integration manager, NASA Johnson

Orion’s entry into the lunar sphere of influence will make the Moon, instead of Earth, the main gravitational force acting on the spacecraft. Flight controllers will conduct an outbound powered flyby burn to harness the force from the Moon’s gravity, accelerate the spacecraft, and direct it toward a distant retrograde orbit beyond the Moon. During the outbound powered flyby, Orion will make its closest approach – approximately 80 miles – above the lunar surface. Four days later, another burn using the European Service Module will insert Orion into distant retrograde orbit, where it will remain for about a week to test spacecraft systems.

7 Comments on "“Exceeding Expectations” – Orion Spacecraft Conducts First Inspection"

  1. 🌙 🌔 🌖 🌛 🌜 👋 missed u ,were back. Seriously got minerals???? Hug

  2. Ha! I bet it is exceeding your expectations. Ha, you didn’t have any expectations did you? Just like me, you thought the whole thing would blow up on the launch pad. But seriously, after all the cash your butt buddies screwed away on this project, it better work better than expected. What an inexhaustibly stupid thing to say.

  3. The Federal SNAP food program is paying poor, disabled elderly $23/month to eat, making food stamp bureaucrats look like they are feeding millions. If we can’t feed our elderly we should at least offer them painless euthanasia to unload them so more money can be wasted by the billions on these star trek fantasies.

  4. Yes, let’s let the Chinese rule the moon. Think about that when you look up in the sky.

  5. Earlier the Better | November 19, 2022 at 5:55 pm | Reply

    Say it takes 10 days to reach Moon; Its Diameter is only 2159 miles. SpaceX has been Sending Several Satellites into the Space Very Frequently. If it can make profit with Each Rocket, Both Governments and Private Entrepreneurs should utilize SpaceX to drop Whatever they want on the Moon and Return Back Soon. It will be Big business for SpaceX and when Humans live on Moon, they can ask their Rover to go & fetch whatever they desire to them there. Preparation should start now. The Astronauts that have to live on Moon should have Everything they want from those that were Dropped for months over the Moon. Preferably, those goods should be Donations. Astronauts cannot do much with Soil of Moon, but flourish with Earthly goods awaiting them there !

    • Earlier the Better | November 19, 2022 at 5:58 pm | Reply

      They have to Close their Eyes on Vinayaka Chathurthi, because there is a Religious Curse for that day only !

  6. Earlier the Better | November 19, 2022 at 6:05 pm | Reply

    It will be a great progress for Mankind; Any Useful Path taken will always help Humans Eventually in some way. Not Everyone is going there. Only a couple of them, risking their lives…If it is so. But Earth too has so many Earthquakes, Hurricanes, Tsunamis, Volcano Eruptions, Pandemics, Flash floods…What Not?

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