The Artemis I mission advances towards the goal of returning to the Moon

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Miami, December 11 (EFE).- NASA has taken an important step in its goal to send astronauts to the lunar surface again after the successful conclusion this Sunday of the unmanned mission Artemis I, the first of a program space with which the American agency puts its sights on the satellite, Mars and “deep space”.

“The final chapter of NASA’s journey to the Moon is coming to an end. Orion, back to Earth,” Rob Navias of NASA’s Johnson Space Center said at approximately 11:40 a.m. local time today US Central Time. United States (17:40 GMT), while the US space agency released the message showing the Orion spacecraft recently arrived in the waters of the Pacific Ocean.

25 Day NASA Mission

Near the island of Guadalupe, some 200 miles (320 km) west of Baja California (Mexico), the last leg of this 25-day and nearly eleven-hour mission ended in during which, after blasting off November 16 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, powered by the powerful SLS rocket, completed a total of 1.4 million miles (2.2 million kilometers) of travel without major incidents.

“It’s historic because now we’re going back to space, to deep space, with a new generation,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson told the space agency just minutes after the return. of the spaceship.

The Orion capsule rescue mission off Baja California, Mexico, December 11, 2022. EFE/EPA/Caroline Brehman

“We are adventurers, we are explorers, we always have a frontier and that frontier now is to keep exploring the sky,” Nelson added, after hinting that the conclusion of Artemis I marks the beginning of a new stage in American space exploration. its international partners, supported by new technologies.

A return to 2.8000 degrees Celsius

Orion reached Earth’s atmosphere at a speed of 25,000 miles per hour (40,000 km/h), or 32 times the speed of sound, shortly after separating from the service module, built by the European Space Agency (ESA) and with which it circumnavigates the Moon.

At the start of the entry process, the 22,000-pound (just over 9,900 kilograms) and about five meters in diameter (16.5 feet) vessel experienced around 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit (2,800 degrees Celsius) , half the temperature of the sun, protected by a heat shield that came to life during this mission.

There is no installation on the planet where a shield of these characteristics and with this new technology can be tested, as explained a few days ago by the head of the Artemis I mission, Mike Sarafin.

Data collected by Orion

Upon arriving in Pacific waters, supported by eleven parachutes that opened as the ship descended at 325 miles per hour (52 km/h), the recovery team aboard the ship of the United States Navy USS Portland, had to wait about two hours before towing the boat.

Navy Airmen from the USS Portland (LPD 27) prepare MH-60 helicopters to fly as part of Operation Orion capsule recovery off Baja California, Mexico, December 11, 2022 EFE/EPA/Caroline Brehmann
Navy airmen from the USS Portland (LPD 27) prepare MH-60 helicopters for the Orion capsule recovery operation off Baja California, Mexico, December 11, 2022. EFE/EPA/ Caroline Brehman

Meanwhile, NASA has been gathering information on the impact of the high temperatures it experienced during reentry on Orion and whether they had any effect on the temperature of the crew cabin, now occupied only by dummies.

The ship fell in the vicinity of the island of Guadalupe in view of the difficult weather conditions announced for this Sunday at the site of origin, off the Californian coast of San Diego (United States).

successful mission

The return of Orion today successfully concludes a historic mission that has achieved additional objectives but above all relevant milestones for the future of the Artemis program with which NASA wants to enter “deep space” through manned travel .

One was when late last month the capsule was placed 434,522 kilometers (almost 270,000 miles) from Earth while doing a U-turn around the Moon on a “far retrograde orbit”, i.e. the opposite direction in which the satellite orbits around the Earth.

The distance, reached when Orion was 40,000 miles (64,000 kilometers) beyond the far side of the Moon, is the farthest ever reached by a spacecraft designed to carry humans and greater than the record set by the 1970 Apollo 13 mission.

During this mission, NASA engineers unexpectedly lost contact with the spacecraft for nearly an hour, for reasons that are still being analyzed, but which mission engineers describe as a minor problem and which does not detract from its merit to the resounding success with which the trip ends.

50 years without going to the moon

Symbolically, the Artemis I mission ends 50 years after the last human moon landing, which occurred in 1972 with the Apollo program, which in total succeeded in putting man on the lunar surface in six missions, the last of which, Apollo 17, three moonwalks were made.

NASA plans are to send the manned mission Artemis II in 2024, during which it would make a journey similar to the one that ends today but without landing on the moon, and the following year Artemis III, in which the astronauts, including a woman and a man of color, would finally land on the satellite for the first time since 1972.

“We knew we were going to go back to the moon but only to continue exploring out into the cosmos,” Nelson said on Sunday.

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