Dark Side of the Moon – Astronaut-class spacecraft re-enters lunar orbit for first time in decades

NASA’s Orion spacecraft entered lunar orbit yesterday and flew over Tranquility Base, where Neil Armstrong ran 53 years ago.

The Artemis mission began its test flight last Wednesday, the first time an astronaut-class spacecraft has ventured into lunar orbit since the Apollo program was canceled.

The spacecraft, powered by an old space shuttle engine, had to burn precisely for two minutes on the dark side of the moon so it could enter retrograde orbit, where it will remain for six days.

Retrograde orbit means that it moves counterclockwise in the opposite direction to the Moon’s rotation around the Earth. At its closest approach, it flew within 81 miles of the lunar surface.

Nasa lost Orion’s signal for 34 minutes as it swept past the moon, and mission controllers faced an anxious wait to find out if the maneuver was successful.

But at 1:25 p.m. GMT, the spacecraft re-established contact with Earth and moved into an elliptical orbit that will eventually launch it into space before returning to space.

Zeb Scoville, NASA flight director, said: “This is one of those days you’ve been thinking about and dreaming about for a long, long time.

“This morning we were just watching the earth set behind the moon as we drove around the moon in the next human-legal vehicle and prepared to bring humans back there within a few years.

“It’s a game changer. We will settle there and do the architecture and research that will give us the opportunity to explore Mars and go beyond.

“We’ll come back with the crew from Artemis II, and then Artemis III will take us to the surface.”

The engine to the moon is provided by the European Service Module (ESM), built by Airbus in Germany, which also supplies the crew with air and water and regulates the temperature.

For its return journey to Earth, it will receive further gravitational assistance from the Moon to put it back on course for a December 11 splashdown in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of San Diego.

Humans last set foot on the moon in December 1972 when the last Apollo mission landed.

The crew consisted of Commander Gene Cernan and Lunar Module Pilot Harrison “Jack” Schmitt, both of whom walked on the lunar surface while Command Module Pilot Ronald Evans circled it.

The Artemis-1 unmanned mission has a Phantom female crew tasked with finding out how to help women survive the rigors of spaceflight.

Nasa has vowed to place the first woman on the lunar surface in 2025, but the female body is extremely vulnerable to space radiation.

Telegraph Media Group Limited [2022]

https://www.independent.ie/world-news/north-america/dark-side-of-the-moon-astronaut-class-spacecraft-enters-lunar-orbit-for-the-first-time-in-decades-42162642.html Dark Side of the Moon – Astronaut-class spacecraft re-enters lunar orbit for first time in decades

Fry Electronics Team

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