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FEATURED: NASA Artemis I โ€“ Flight Day Six: Orion Performs Lunar Flyby, Closest Outbound Approach

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#AceNewsDesk – A portion of the far side of the Moon looms large just beyond the Orion spacecraft in this image taken on the sixth day of the Artemis I mission by a camera on the tip of one of Orionโ€™s solar arrays by Leah Cheshier November 21, 2022 8:19 pm(Nov. 21, 2022)

The spacecraft entered the lunar sphere of influence Sunday, Nov. 20, making the Moon, instead of Earth, the main gravitational force acting on the spacecraft. On Monday, Nov. 21, it came within 80 miles of the lunar surface, the closest approach of the uncrewed Artemis I mission, before moving into a distant retrograde orbit around the Moon. The darkest spot visible near the middle of the image is Mare Orientale.

On its sixth day into the Artemis I mission, Orion successfully completed its fourth orbital trajectory correction burn using the auxiliary engines at 1:44 a.m. CST ahead the first of two maneuvers required to enter a distant retrograde orbit around the Moon.

The first three trajectory correction burns provided an opportunity to fire all three thruster types on Orion with the first using the large orbital maneuvering system engine, the second using the small reaction control system thrusters, and the third using the medium-sized auxiliary engines.

Orion completed the outbound powered flyby at 6:44 a.m., passing about 81 miles above the surface at 6:57 a.m.

The spacecraft speed increased from 2,128 mph before the burn to 5,102 mph after the burn. Shortly after the outbound flyby burn, the space craft passed about 1,400 miles above the Apollo 11 landing site at Tranquility Base at 7:37 a.m. Orion later flew over the Apollo 14 site at about 6,000 miles in altitude and then over the Apollo 12 site at an altitude of about 7,700 miles

The mission continues to proceed as we had planned, and the ground systems, our operations teams, and the Orion spacecraft continue to exceed expectations, and we continue to learn along the way about this new, deep-space spacecraft,โ€ said Mike Sarafin, Artemis I mission manager, in a Nov. 21 briefing at Johnson Space Center. (Nov. 21, 2022)

– The Earth is seen setting from the far side of the Moon just beyond the Orion spacecraft in this video taken on the sixth day of the Artemis I mission by a camera on the tip of one of Orionโ€™s solar arrays. The spacecraft was preparing for the Outbound Powered Flyby maneuver which would bring it within 80 miles of the lunar surface, the closest approach of the uncrewed Artemis I mission, before moving into a distant retrograde orbit around the Moon. The spacecraft entered the lunar sphere of influence Sunday, Nov. 20, making the Moon, instead of Earth, the main gravitational force acting on the spacecraft.

(Nov. 21, 2022) A portion of the far side of the Moon looms large just beyond the Orion spacecraft in this image taken on the sixth day of the Artemis I mission by a camera on the tip of one of Orionโ€™s solar arrays. The spacecraft entered the lunar sphere of influence Sunday, Nov. 20, making the Moon, instead of Earth, the main gravitational force acting on the spacecraft. On Monday, Nov. 21, it came within 80 miles of the lunar surface, the closest approach of the uncrewed Artemis I mission, before moving into a distant retrograde orbit around the Moon. The darkest spot visible near the middle of the image is Mare Orientale.
Flight Day 6: A Selfie with the Moon
Nov. 21, 2022) โ€“ The Earth is seen setting from the far side of the Moon just beyond the Orion spacecraft in this video taken on the sixth day of the Artemis I mission by a camera on the tip of one of Orionโ€™s solar arrays. The spacecraft was preparing for the Outbound Powered Flyby maneuver which would bring it within 80 miles of the lunar surface, the closest approach of the uncrewed Artemis I mission, before moving into a distant retrograde orbit around the Moon. The spacecraft entered the lunar sphere of influence Sunday, Nov. 20, making the Moon, instead of Earth, the main gravitational force acting on the spacecraft.

Orion will enter distant retrograde orbit beyond the Moon on Friday, Nov. 25 with the second maneuver, called the distant retrograde orbit insertion burn.

The orbit is โ€œdistantโ€ in the sense that itโ€™s at a high altitude from the surface of the Moon, and itโ€™s โ€œretrogradeโ€ because Orion will travel around the Moon opposite the direction the Moon travels around Earth. This orbit provides a highly stable orbit where little fuel is required to stay for an extended trip in deep space to put Orionโ€™s systems to the test in an extreme environment far from Earth.

Orion will travel about 57,287 miles beyond the Moon at its farthest point from the Moon on Nov. 25, pass the record set by Apollo 13 for the farthest distance traveled by a spacecraft designed for humans at 248,655 miles from Earth on Saturday, Nov. 26, and reach its maximum distance from Earth of 268,552 miles Monday, Nov. 28.  

As of Monday, Nov. 21, a total of about 3,700 pounds of propellant has been used, about 75 pounds less than prelaunch expected values. There is more than 2,000 pounds of margin available over what is planned for use during the mission, an increase of about 200 pounds from prelaunch expected values. 

Just after 2:45 p.m. CST on Nov. 21, Orion had traveled 216,842 miles from Earth and was 13,444 miles from the Moon, cruising at 3,489 miles per hour.   

Follow along andtrack Orionvia the Artemis Real-Time Orbit Website, or AROW, and watch live footage from the spacecraft.โ€ฏYou can find the latest images from Orion on the Johnson Space Center Flickr account.

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