NASA released the selfie taken. Orion capsule and close-up images of the moon’s crater-scarred landscape as the spacecraft continues on its Artemis 1 mission, a 25-and-a-half-day journey that will take it more than 40,000 miles to the far side of the moon.
Orion’s latest selfie — taken on Wednesday, the eighth day of the mission, by a camera on one of the capsule’s solar arrays — shows the spacecraft with a slightly angled view of the moon in the background. The close-up photos were taken on Monday when Orion made it Closest Approaches to the Moonpasses about 80 miles (129 km) above the Moon’s surface.
If Orion completes its journey past the Moon and returns to Earth, it will be the farthest spacecraft ever intended to carry humans. For now, the capsule is carrying only. Lifeless, scientific Payloads
Orion is part of NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to eventually establish a lunar outpost that can permanently host astronauts for the first time in history, in hopes of one day paving the way to Mars.
The Artemis I mission Launched on November 16.when NASA’s troubled and long-delayed Space Launch System, or SLS, rocket launched the Orion capsule into space, cementing the rocket as the most powerful operational launch vehicle ever.
As of Thursday afternoon, the capsule was 222,993 miles (358,972 km) from Earth and 55,819 miles (89,831 km) from the moon, zipping along at just over 2,600 mph, according to NASA.
Orion is now one day away from entering a “distant retrograde orbit” around our nearest neighbor, the farthest, because it will be much higher than the surface of the Moon, and retrograde, as it orbits the Moon. It will be applied in the opposite direction from where it will be. The moon travels around the earth.
The purpose of the passage is to “stress test” the Orion capsule, as NASA’s Artemis mission manager, Michael Sarafin, said last week.
According to NASA’s Artemis BlogThe agency’s television coverage of the far-back orbital insertion burn is scheduled for Friday at 4:30 pm ET and the burn is scheduled to occur at 4:52 pm ET.
After lapping the Moon, the Orion capsule is expected to return to Earth and make a light splash landing in the Pacific Ocean on December 11.