NASA’s Orion makes headlines after $4 billion trip to the moon points to one last lunar base

NASA’s Orion capsule made an ultrafast return from the moon on Sunday, parachuting into the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Mexico to end a test flight that will clear the way for astronauts on their next flight to the moon. .

The capsule entered the atmosphere at Mach 32, or 32 times the speed of sound, and endured a return temperature of 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit (2,760 degrees Celsius) before plunging west of Baja california near the island of Guadalupe. A Navy ship quickly moved in to recover the spacecraft and its silent occupants – three test dummies equipped with vibration sensors and radiation monitors.

NASA praised the near-perfect descent and splashing, as congratulations came from Washington..

“I was overwhelmed,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson from Mission Control in Houston. “This is an extraordinary day… It is a historic day because now we are returning to space — deep space — with a new generation.”

The space agency needs a successful test to stay on track for Orion’s next flight around the moon, targeted for 2024 with four astronauts to be revealed early next year. This was followed by a two-man moon landing in early 2025 and finally a sustainable lunar base. The long-term plan would be to launch an expedition to Mars in the late 2030s.

Astronauts last landed on the moon 50 years ago. After landing on December 11, 1972, Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt of Apollo 17 spent three days exploring the Taurus-Littrow valley, the longest stay in the Apollo era. They were the last of the 12 to walk on the moon.

Since then, Orion was the first capsule to visit the moon, launched into orbit by NASA new supermoon rocket from Kennedy Space Center on November 16. It was the first flight of NASA’s new Artemis lunar program, named after Apollo’s mythical twin sister.

“From Tranquility Base to Taurus-Littrow to the calm waters of the Pacific, the latest chapter in NASA’s journey to the moon is coming to an end. Orion returns to Earth,” announced Mission Control commentator Rob Navias.

While no one was on board the $4 billion test flight, NASA managers were thrilled to do the rehearsal, especially after years of flight delays and tight budgets. break. Fuel leaks and storms conspired to further delay the late summer and fall.

In an Apollo comeback, NASA threw a huge party at Houston’s Johnson Space Center on Sunday, with employees and their families gathering to watch the broadcast about their hometown of Orion. Next door, the visitor center has thrown a hit to the public.

Bringing Orion back intact after a 25-day flight is a top goal of NASA. With a return speed of 25,000 mph (40,000 kph) — significantly faster than the speed from low Earth orbit — the capsule used a new, never-before-tested advanced heat shield. previously in space flight. To reduce gravity or G-load, it plunges into the atmosphere and flies out for a short time, while helping to pinpoint the area of ​​the splash.

Officials note that all of that worked out spectacularly, allowing Orion to return safely.

Mission manager Mike Sarafin said: “I don’t think any of us could have imagined such a successful mission.

Further tests will be conducted after Orion returns to Kennedy at the end of the month. If testing of the capsule finds nothing unusual, NASA will announce its first lunar crew in early 2023 amid considerable noise, chosen from among 42 active US astronauts stationed at Houston’s Johnson Space Center.

“People are worried, we know it,” Vanessa Wyche, Johnson’s director, told reporters. Nelson added: “The American people, like (with) the original seven astronauts in the days of Mercury, will want to know about these astronauts.”

The capsule splashed down more than 300 miles (482 km) south of the original target area. Forecasts calling for rough seas and high winds off the Southern California coast prompted NASA to relocate.

Orion had traveled 1.4 million miles (2.25 million km) as it zoomed in on the moon and then entered a wide orbit, swooping down for almost a week before going home.

It came within 80 miles (130 km) of the moon twice. At the furthest point, the capsule is more than 268,000 miles (430,000 km) from Earth.

Orion has shown back beautiful pictures not only of the gray, pockmarked moon but also of its home planet. As a farewell shot, the capsule reveals a crescent-shaped Earth – Earthrise – leaving the mission team speechless.

Astronomer Daniel Brown of Nottingham Trent University said the many achievements of the flight demonstrate NASA’s ability to put astronauts on Artemis’ next moon capture.

“This is a memorable end to a wonderful and important journey for NASA’s Orion spacecraft,” Brown said in a statement from the UK.

The moon has never been hotter. Just hours before Sunday, a spacecraft launched a rocket towards the moon from Cape Canaveral. The the moon lander belongs to ispace, a Tokyo company that intends to develop the economy there. Meanwhile, two US companies already have lunar landers launching early next year.

Our new Weekly Impact Report looks at how ESG news and trends are shaping the roles and responsibilities of today’s executives. Sign up here.


News5h: Update the world's latest breaking news online of the day, breaking news, politics, society today, international mainstream news .Updated news 24/7: Entertainment, the World everyday world. Hot news, images, video clips that are updated quickly and reliably

Related Articles

Back to top button