WASHINGTON: NASA’s Orion spacecraft was successfully placed in the Lunar orbit said officials on Friday. “A little over a week after the spacecraft blasted off from Florida bound for the Moon, flight controllers “successfully performed a burn to insert Orion into a distant retrograde orbit,” the US space agency said on its website.
The first uncrewed test flights’ Near-Earth Asteroid Scout (NEA Scout), a shoebox-size asteroid explorer, one among the 10 payloads successfully separated and deployed from the SLS (Space Launch System) rocket but has not established contact with the spacecraft as yet.
Using the Optical Navigation Camera on the spacecraft captured images of the moon. ” Orion uses the optical navigation camera to capture imagery of the Earth and the moon at different phases and distances, providing an enhanced body of data to certify its effectiveness under different lighting conditions as a way to help orient the spacecraft on future missions with crew, said the agency sharing the images.
Orion is currently preparing for a critical maneuver that will send the capsule into a high and “distant” orbit around the moon. The space capsule as per the information by NASA officials will remain in its orbit for a week before returning to Earth. A Pacific splashdown is planned for Dec. 11.
The spacecraft shatter NASA’s distance record for a spacecraft designed for astronauts — nearly 250,000 miles (400,000 kilometers) from Earth, set by Apollo 13 in 1970. And it will keep going, reaching a maximum distance from Earth next Monday at nearly 270,000 miles (433,000 kilometers).