Orion spacecraft returns to Earth, first step for NASA in goal of returning to Moon

NASA took a significant step in its goal of sending astronauts to the lunar surface again after the successful completion of the unmanned Artemis I mission this Sunday, the first of the space program with the US agency setting its sights on the satellite. Mars and “Deep Space”.

“The most recent chapter in NASA’s journey to the Moon has come to an end. Orion is back on Earth,” said Rob Navias of NASA’s Johnson Space Center. United States (18:40 Spanish Peninsular Time), while the US space agency’s broadcast showed the Orion spacecraft Recently arrived in the waters of the Pacific Ocean.

near Guadalupe Island, about 320 km west of Baja California (Mexico), thus ending the final leg of a mission of 25 days and about eleven hours, which took off on 16 November Kennedy Space Center Florida, Propelled by the powerful SLS rocket, it covered a total distance of 2.2 million kilometers without any major incident.

“It’s historic, because now we’re going back into space, deep space, with a new generation,” said NASA’s administrator. bill nelsonIn a statement to the space agency minutes after the ship’s return.

“We are courageous we are explorersWe always have a limit and that limit is now to continue exploring the skies,” Nelson said, adding that Artemis I’s conclusion marked the beginning of a new phase of space exploration for the United States and its international partners. New technology support.

return at 2,800 °C

Orion reached the equivalent of 40,000 km/h in Earth’s atmosphere 32 times the speed of soundand shortly after separation from the service module maintained by the European Space Agency (ESA) with which it orbited the Moon.

When the entry process began, the ship, weighing just 9,900 kg and about five meters in diameter, experienced temperatures of about 2,800 °C, half the temperature in the sun, Protected by the thermal shield issued in this mission.

There are no facilities on the planet where a gradient of these characteristics can be tested and with this new technology, as explained a few days ago by the manager of the Artemis I mission, Mike Sarafin,

Upon arrival in Pacific waters, supported by eleven parachutes, which progressively opened as the ship descended at approximately 200 km/h, the recovery team aboard the US Navy ship USS Portland, He had to wait for about two hours before the ship could be towed.

We are adventurers, we are explorers, we always have a limit and that limit is now the sky to keep exploring

nasa at that time collect information about how they killed Orion experienced higher temperatures during re-entry and whether this had an effect on the temperature of the crew cabin, now occupied only by mannequins.

shipwrecked around Guadalupe Island Given the rough weather conditions forecast for this Sunday at the original site, off the coast of the California city of San Diego.

successful mission

Orion’s return this Sunday successfully completes a historic mission that achieved additional goals but milestones especially relevant to the future of the Artemis program with which NASA seeks to enter “Deep Space” via manned travel.

One of them was when late last month the capsule was placed at a distance of 434,522 km from Earth while it was making half a revolution around the Moon in one orbit. “far retrograde orbit”, That is, in the opposite direction in which the satellite orbits the Earth.

The distance reached when Orion was 64,000 km from the far side of the Moon is the maximum ever achieved by a spacecraft. spacecraft designed for human transport and surpasses the record achieved by the Apollo 13 mission in 1970.

During this mission, NASA engineers unexpectedly lost contact with the spacecraft for about an hour, for reasons that are still under analysis, but which they believe a little problem And that doesn’t detract from the resounding success with which the journey ends.

Symbolically, the Artemis I mission ends 50 years after the last human moon landing, happened with the Apollo program in 1972, In total he managed to set foot on the surface of the Moon in six missions, the last of which, Apollo 17, made three lunar orbits.

NASA plans to send Artemis II manned mission in 2024During which it will make a similar journey that ends this Sunday, but without landing on the Moon, and next year Artemis III, with astronauts including a woman and a man of color, will finally touch down. satellite for the first time since 1972

“We knew we were going to return to the Moon but only to continue search the universeNelson explained.

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