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Nine days after its flight to the moon and beyond, NASA’s unmanned Orion capsule is scheduled to start its engines for an insertion burn that will place the spacecraft in a distant retrograde orbit (DRO) about 50,000 km from the lunar surface.
DRO provides a highly stable orbit that requires little fuel, allowing NASA to fully test Orion’s systems in a deep space environment far from Earth for an extended period of time.
The orbit is so large that it takes Orion six days to complete half a revolution, at which point the spacecraft de-orbits for the journey home.
The Orion capsules are designed to be partially reusable. While this iteration is likely headed for a museum if it returns in one piece, NASA is hoping to salvage the avionics systems for Artemis II, scheduled for launch in 2024. Otherwise, the team will be able to gather lots of data on what can actually be reused (like the heat shield) once the test flight is complete.
Artemis I’s mission manager, Mike Sarafin, has previously described Orion’s maiden flight as a “true stress test.” He said: “With no crew aboard the first mission, DRO allows Orion to spend more time in space for a rigorous mission to ensure spacecraft systems such as guidance, navigation, communications, power, thermal control and others are ready to ensure the safety of astronauts.” to ensure future manned missions.”
Orion photo of the lunar surface (Credit: NASA)
Orion has succeeded in its journey to DRO, getting within 130 km of the regolith and using its optical navigation camera to capture some fantastic images of the far side of the Moon, which is never visible from Earth due to the satellite’s tidal lock .
Images from day 6 of the mission have been uploaded to Artemis I’s Flickr account.
At 21:52 UTC yesterday, the spacecraft completed its sixth and final outbound trajectory correction before entering DRO and firing the European Service Module’s auxiliary engines for 17 seconds to propel Orion at 8.9 feet per second. While in orbit, three orbital servicing burns will keep the Orion on course.
Orion ‘Selfie’ with the Moon (Credit: NASA)
NASA took the opportunity for an Orion “selfie” with the Moon, using a camera mounted on one of its solar panels at 03:57 UTC to illustrate the immense distances involved. The DRO insertion burn is scheduled to take place today at 21:52 UTC. ®
https://www.theregister.com/2022/11/25/orion/ Orion takes a “selfie” with Moon before entering orbit. • The Register
Orion takes a “selfie” with Moon before entering orbit. • The Register – World Time Todays
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