Here! NASA’s Artemis I Orion Close flyby of the Moon

Artemis I will be the first integrated flight test of NASA’s deep space system: the Orion spacecraft, the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, and ground systems at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The first in a series of increasingly complex missions, Artemis I will be an uncrewed flight that will provide the foundation for human exploration of deep space and demonstrate our commitment and ability to extend human existence to the Moon and beyond. During this flight, the uncrewed Orion spacecraft will launch on the world’s most powerful rocket and travel thousands of miles beyond the Moon, farther than any human-made spacecraft has ever flown, during a roughly three-week mission. Credit: NASA/Liam Janulis

Watch live as[{” attribute=””>NASA’s Orion spacecraft performs a close approach of the lunar surface on its way to a distant retrograde orbit (DRO). Orion will pass around 80 miles above the lunar surface, as it progresses toward a DRO, a highly stable orbit thousands of miles beyond the Moon.

During the Artemis I flight test, launched on November 16, Orion will travel 280,000 miles (450,000 km) from Earth and 40,000 miles (64,000 km) beyond the far side of the Moon, carrying science and technology payloads to expand our understanding of lunar science, technology developments, and deep space radiation.

Watch live: Artemis I closes lunar flyby

On Sunday, five days into Artemis I’s 25.5-day mission, Orion continued its trajectory toward the moon. At NASA’s Johnson Space Center, controllers in the White Flight Control Room in Houston took additional images of the moon using an optical navigation camera. Collecting images of the Earth and the Moon in different phases and at different distances will provide an expanded amount of data to confirm their effectiveness as a location aid for future missions under variable lighting conditions.

At 6:12 a.m. CST, Orion completed its third exit trajectory correction, releasing auxiliary engines for 6 seconds at 3.39 feet per second. This accelerated Orion and adjusted the spacecraft’s path on its way to the Moon. Which of the Orion service module’s engines – the reaction control, the auxiliary system or the orbital maneuvering system – to use for a specific maneuver is determined by the required amount of speed change.

The spacecraft entered the lunar sphere of influence at 13:09 CST, making the Moon, rather than the Earth, the primary gravitational force acting on the spacecraft. During the night, Orion will conduct a fourth exit trajectory correction record prior to the powered exit flyby. Flight controllers will conduct a powered flyby, firing the Orbital Maneuvering System engine for 2 minutes 30 seconds to accelerate the spacecraft, harness the Moon’s gravity, and steer it toward far retrograde orbit behind the moon.

Artemis I Lunar Flyby Artist Concept

Artist’s concept of the Artemis I flyby. Credit: NASA/Liam Ianulis

The powered exit flight is the first of a pair of maneuvers required to enter a distant retrograde orbit around the Moon. NASA will cover the maneuver live starting at 7:15 a.m. EST (4:15 a.m. PST) on the agency’s channel site, NASA Televisionand NASA app. The powered flyby will begin at 7:44 a.m., and Orion’s closest approach to the moon is scheduled for 7:57 a.m., when it will pass about 80 miles above the lunar surface. Engineers expect to lose contact with the spacecraft as it passes the moon for about 34 minutes starting at 7:26 a.m. Goldstone Earth Station, part of NASA Deep Space Network, will get the spacecraft as soon as it leaves the moon.

Mission leaders currently have two active anomaly resolution teams. Anomaly resolution teams are a standard part of mission management, bringing together a group of technical experts to focus on a specific problem, examining data to understand the implications for a specific system. Activating a separate team for this work allows engineers and flight controllers to continue to focus on controlling and monitoring the spacecraft and evaluating the progress of the flight test.

One team is currently looking at a star tracking system to understand a number of RAM errors that have been successfully recovered with power cycles. A second team is analyzing several cases where one of the eight units in the service module that provides solar power for the crew module, called the umbilical-lock current limiter of the air conditioning and power distribution unit, opened without a command. Each time the umbilical cord was successfully closed and there was no loss of power to the spacecraft’s avionics. Both systems are currently functioning as required and these efforts have no impact on the mission. Analyzing data for these systems and understanding their behavior during active flight testing while the hardware is in deep space will improve mission performance on Artemis I and future missions.

As of 1:25 p.m. CST on November 20, Orion had passed 232,683 miles from Earth and was 39,501 miles from the Moon, traveling at 371 miles per hour. See which antennas are connecting to Orion in real time Deep Space Network now and Orion track via the Artemis Real-Time Orbit or AROW website. Here! NASA’s Artemis I Orion Close flyby of the Moon

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