The Orion capsule flew around the back of the Moon and was at one point just under 130 kilometers from the surface. Because the Moon shadowed Orion during part of the flight, radio communication was impossible for half an hour. At the Houston control center, they didn’t know if the guided missiles had launched as planned until the capsule appeared after the flight around the Moon, 375,000 kilometers from us.
This time there were no people on board, but three experimental dummies. The trip, which began last Wednesday, cost $4.1 billion – more than 40 billion kroner – and the visit to the lunar region was a highlight.
During the flight, the capsule flew over the landing sites of Apollo 11, 12 and 14 – the first of three manned missions to the Moon.
“This is one of those days you’ve been thinking and talking about for a long time,” says flight commander Zeb Scoville as he waits for the capsule to emerge from the radio shadow and reconnect with Earth.
According to the plan, the control rockets will be launched again on Friday and the capsule will be put into lunar orbit. Almost this weekend, NASA will break the distance record for spacecraft designed to carry humans on board. At most, the capsule would be 433,000 km from Earth – 33,000 km farther than the Apollo 13 flight in 1970.
After about a week in orbit around the Moon, Orion will return home and is scheduled to touch down in the Pacific Ocean on December 11th.
According to the plan, a manned version will fly around the Moon with astronauts on board in 2024. The following year, an attempted moon landing is scheduled, 56 years after Neil Armstrong’s “Great Leap for Mankind” in July 1969. You won’t be in the Orion capsule – not It has a lunar lander, but with SpaceX’s Starship.
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