NASA’s Orion has been traveling for just over five days and it is just now getting to the Moon. At the weekend, NASA used the cameras at the end of the solar panel to snap a few pictures of the capsule – and oh my, it is looking gorgeous.
The spacecraft entered the lunar sphere of influence on Sunday, November 20 at 2:09 pm EST; that’s when the Moon becomes the main gravitational force acting on the spacecraft. It then conducted another burn so that it could enter a distant retrograde orbit beyond the Moon.
The images are not just for show. Artemis I is uncrewed and it is testing the capabilities of this spacecraft ahead of the first crewed mission, Artemis II. All systems are being tested extensively to make sure every contingency is being accounted for.
Engineers expect an imminent loss of communication from Orion as it goes behind the Moon, starting at 7:26 am EST. This will last for 34 minutes, and seven minutes later Orion will fly just 130 kilometers (80 miles) from the surface of the Moon.