After completing NASA’s Orion spacecraft’s Artemis 1 moon mission, the US space agency’s Artemis 1 spacecraft has returned to Earth. After a 25.5-day voyage, the crewless capsule splashed into the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja, California, Mexico, at approximately 12:40 PM ET (11:10 PM IST) on Sunday, December 11.
The Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System (SLS) rocket had its first integrated flight test during the Artemis 1, or Artemis I, mission. The mission’s primary goal was to test the Orion spacecraft’s heat shield to prepare for future Artemis missions.
Orion’s heat shield
As it hits the Earth’s atmosphere, Orion’s heat shield will have to withstand temperatures of 2,800 degrees Celsius. Additionally, NASA tested sensors, navigation, and communications gear. It was launched from Kennedy Space Center on November 16, 2022, following several delays.
As it returned to Earth, Orion’s capsule achieved speeds of roughly 24,500 mph and maintained temperatures of nearly 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Over 25.5 days, it traveled 1.4 million miles in space.
Artemis 1: How will NASA get the data
NASA will begin collecting data from the various sensor-equipped onboard mannequins. The information will subsequently be utilized to design further human-powered missions. A team of humans will orbit the Moon during NASA’s second Artemis mission, which is scheduled for 2024. During the Artemis III mission, the US space agency aims to land people on the Moon, although this may not be feasible until 2026.
NASA Artemis 1 Orion spacecraft re-entry
NASA Artemis 1’s employment of the re-entry technology, the first human spacecraft to do so, is one of its intriguing details. This process, known as “skip entry,” makes the spacecraft splash down precisely at the landing spot. According to NASA, this method guarantees a safe re-entry for upcoming Artemis missions.