Orion has spent almost three weeks in space, exceeding the expectations of the Artemis I mission. The uncrewed capsule was sent on its first voyage beyond Earth to test its capabilities, to make sure that when people are on board everything will go as smoothly as possible. The mission has also been taking images, and the latest one is absolutely stunning.
The image was taken by the camera at the end of Orion’s solar panels. The side of the spacecraft can be seen stark against the dark and cratered Moon. Farther in the distance, our own planet is but a crescent as the Sun illuminates a sliver of it. Many have compared it to a sci-fi movie shot, but an even more eerie comparison is the one with the poster for Ron Howard’s Apollo 13 movie.
NASA’s Orion is going to splash down off the coast of San Diego on Sunday, December 11 – its crucial final test after everything it has accomplished in space.
“Orion is heading home! Today the team achieved another momentous accomplishment, flying Orion just 80 miles from the surface of the Moon. The lunar flyby enabled the spacecraft to harness the Moon’s gravity and slingshot it back toward Earth for splashdown,” said administrator Bill Nelson yesterday in a statement following Orion’s last flyby of the Moon.
“When Orion re-enters Earth’s atmosphere in just a few days, it will come back hotter and faster than ever before – the ultimate test before we put astronauts on board. Next up, re-entry!”