The United States’ space agency, NASA’s Orion spacecraft, reached a key milestone in its voyage around the Moon by travelling furthest than any spacecraft designed to carry humans has before. On Monday, NASA confirmed that the uncrewed Orion capsule has moved at least 270,000 miles (430,000 km) beyond Earth marking the midpoint of the mission.
The Orion spacecraft is key to the US space agency’s historic Artemis I mission which plans to send humans to the Moon after nearly five decades. The previous record was set by the Apollo 13 mission in 1970 which carried astronauts at least 248,655 miles (400,171 km) away from Earth.
The capsule took off from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center, earlier this month, on a 26-day mission to test the limits of the vehicle and ensure it is safe for astronauts to travel. Notably, the distance covered by Orion, on Monday, is more than 40,000 miles (64,374 km) beyond the far side of the Moon.
While the mission has encountered a few technical hiccups or as the Artemis I Mission Manager Michael Sarafin calls them “funnies” he has assured that none of them is “out there are of consequence”. Meanwhile, Orion Program Manager Howard Hu, on Monday, told the press that Orion’s performance so far has been “outstanding” and even exceeding expectations in certain aspects like using much less fuel.
It had previously witnessed some issues with the data sent by Orion’s star tracker, which signals the orientation of the spacecraft. However, NASA officials have said that is not uncommon when it comes to operating a new spacecraft and have since “worked through” it. The spacecraft is due to crash in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California on December 11.
(With inputs from agencies)
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