NASA’s Orion spacecraft sends back live views of the moon, Earth

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NASA’s Orion spacecraft made a crucial outbound flyby burn on Monday to ensure it remained in orbit around the Moon and, along the way, shared incredible views of Earth and the Moon behind.

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launched on a spacecraft Artemis 1 test flight from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center On November 19 in Florida, the start of the 240,000-trip to the moon.

Orion, built by Lockheed Martin for NASA, is equipped with cameras inside and outside the spacecraft. After launching on NASA’s Space Launch System rocket, Orion began sharing views of Earth.

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As Orion begins its closest approach to the Moon, NASA once again shared live views of the Moon and Earth as seen from the spacecraft. Early Monday, Orion was more than 230,000 miles from home, quickly closing the gap to the moon. The images were provided by Orion’s solar arrays or cameras. Spacecraft’s “selfie sticks.”

At 6:44 a.m. CT, Orion’s orbital (OEM) engines continued to burn for about 2 minutes to push the spacecraft into a distant retrograde orbit around the Moon. Prior to this burn, NASA lost signal with Orion for about 34 minutes when it reached the far side of the Moon farthest from Earth.

This screengrab from NASA TV shows NASA’s Orion capsule, left, closer to the Moon, right, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022.
AP
This NASA TV handout shows NASA's Orion spacecraft approaching the Moon on Monday, Nov. 21, 2022.
This NASA TV handout shows NASA’s Orion spacecraft approaching the Moon on Monday, Nov. 21, 2022.
AP
Engineers activate the Callisto payload, Lockheed Martin's technology demonstration in collaboration with Amazon and Cisco, on the Orion spacecraft.  Callisto will test voice-activated and video technology that could help future astronauts on deep space missions.
Engineers activate the Callisto payload, Lockheed Martin’s technology demonstration in collaboration with Amazon and Cisco, on the Orion spacecraft. Callisto will test voice-activated and video technology that could help future astronauts on deep space missions.
NASA Orion / SWNS
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The space agency re-acquired the spacecraft’s signal as Orion came out from behind the moon. Once again, Orion shared views of Earth’s “pale blue dot” some 230,000 miles away.

“It’s one of those days that you’ve been thinking about and dreaming about for a long time,” said Zeb Scoville, NASA’s flight director. “This morning, we saw Earth set behind the Moon as we brought the next human-rated vehicle past the Moon.”

This handout image from NASA, issued Nov. 21, 2022, shows a view of the spacecraft, Earth, and the Moon, as captured by a camera on Orion's solar array wing.
This handout image from NASA, issued Nov. 21, 2022, shows a view of the spacecraft, Earth, and the Moon, as captured by a camera on Orion’s solar array wing.
NASA TV/AFP via Getty Images
Watched from Earth as the flight control team uses cameras mounted on Orion's solar fins to take a closer look at the spacecraft.
Watched from Earth as the flight control team uses cameras mounted on Orion’s solar fins to take a closer look at the spacecraft.
NASA Orion / SWNS

At its closest approach on Monday, Orion was 81 miles above the lunar surface, the closest it will come to the Moon during the Artemis 1 mission.

The last time a human-rated spacecraft got this close to the Moon was during the Apollo 17 mission in 1972.

The moon is observed as the flight control team uses cameras mounted on Orion's solar fins to take a closer look at the spacecraft.
The moon is observed as the flight control team uses cameras mounted on Orion’s solar fins to take a closer look at the spacecraft.
NASA Orion / SWNS

If all goes well, Orion will fly more than 40,000 miles from the Moon, flying in an orbit that follows the direction the Moon orbits Earth.

After this maneuver, Orion will enter retrograde orbit for about six days before launching the spacecraft back to Earth.

Orion doesn’t have a crew for this maiden voyage, but it does have several manikins with sensors to help NASA understand what astronauts will experience on the Artemis II mission in less than two years.

Credit: nypost.com /

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