History-Making Event: Orion Goes the (Max) Distance – 268,563 Miles From Earth

Artemis I Flight Day 13 Orion Earth Moon

On flight day 13, Orion reached its maximum distance from Earth during the Artemis I mission when it was 268,563 miles away from our home planet. Orion has now traveled farther than any other spacecraft built for humans. Credit: NASA

NASA Artemis I — Flight Day 13: Orion Goes the (Max) Distance

Just after 3 p.m. CST on Monday, November 28, NASA’s uncrewed Orion spacecraft reached the farthest distance from Earth it will travel during the Artemis I mission — 268,563 miles (432,210 km) from our home planet. The spacecraft also captured imagery of Earth and the Moon together throughout the day, including of the Moon appearing to eclipse Earth.

Reaching the halfway point of the mission on Flight Day 13 of a 25.5 day mission, the spacecraft remains in healthy condition as it continues its journey in distant retrograde orbit, an approximately six-day leg of its larger mission thousands of miles beyond the Moon.

“Because of the unbelievable can-do spirit, Artemis I has had extraordinary success and has completed a series of history-making events,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “It’s incredible just how smoothly this mission has gone, but this is a test. That’s what we do – we test it and we stress it.”

Artemis I Map

Artemis I will be the first integrated flight test of NASA’s deep space exploration system: the Orion spacecraft, Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, and the ground systems at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Credit: NASA

Engineers had originally planned an orbital maintenance burn today. However, they determined it was not necessary because of Orion’s already precise trajectory in distant retrograde orbit. Based on Orion’s performance, managers are examining adding seven additional test objectives to further characterize the spacecraft’s thermal environment and propulsion system to reduce risk before flying future missions with crew. To date, flight controllers have accomplished or are in the process of completing 37.5% of the test objectives associated with the mission, with many remaining objectives set to be evaluated during entry, descent, splashdown, and recovery.

NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems team and the U.S. Navy are beginning initial operations for recovery of Orion when it splashes down in the Pacific Ocean. The team will deploy Tuesday for training at sea before return to shore to make final preparations ahead of splashdown.

On flight day 13, Orion continues to distance itself from Earth and the Moon, looking back on our home planet and lunar neighbor as the two begin to eclipse in this video taken at 10:41 a.m. CST. Credit: NASA

Today, managers also closed out a team formed earlier in the mission to investigate readings associated with the spacecraft’s star trackers after determining the hardware is performing as expected and initially suspect readings are a byproduct of the flight environment.

Flight controllers have also completed 9 of 19 translational burns and exercised the three types of engines on Orion – the main engine, auxiliary thrusters, and reaction control system thrusters. Approximately 5,640 pounds of propellants have been used, which is about 150 pounds less than prelaunch expected values. More than 2,000 pounds of margin remain available beyond what teams plan to use for the mission, an increase of more than 120 pounds from prelaunch expected values. So far, teams have already sent more than 2,000 files from the spacecraft to Earth.

On flight day 13, Orion continues to distance itself from Earth and the Moon, looking back on our home planet and lunar neighbor as the Moon prepares to eclipse the Earth as seen from Orion. Credit: NASA

Just before 8 p.m. EST, Orion was 268,457 miles (432,040 km) from Earth and 43,138 miles (69,424 km) from the Moon, cruising at 1,679 miles (2,702 km) per hour.

To follow the mission in real-time, you can track Orion during its mission around the Moon and back and watch live imagery from the spacecraft. Check the NASA TV schedule for updates on the next televised events.

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