The spacecraft completed a flight that included a lap of the moon and carried several scientific experiments. It is now aboard a US military ship that will take it to San Diego, from where it will be transferred to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida for testing
NASA's Orion spacecraft landed safely in the Pacific Ocean, west of Baja California, at 9:40 a.m. West Coast Time (19:40 p.m. Israel time) today, Sunday, after a record-breaking mission in which it traveled more than 2 million kilometers in orbit around the moon and returned safely to earth, thus completing the flight test Artemis I.
The sea landing is the final milestone of the Artemis I mission that began with the successful liftoff of NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) rocket on Nov. 16, followed by Launch 39B at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. For 25.5 days, NASA tested Orion in the harsh environment of deep space before launching astronauts on Artemis II.
"The landing of the Orion spacecraft - which took place exactly 50 years after the Apollo 17 landing on the moon - is the highlight of the first Artemis mission. From the launch of the world's most powerful rocket to the extraordinary journey around the Moon and back to Earth, this flight test is a major step forward in the Artemis generation of lunar exploration," said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. "This would not have been possible without the amazing team at NASA. For years, thousands of people have dedicated themselves to this world-inspiring mission and worked together to reach pristine cosmic beaches. Today is a huge victory for NASA, the United States, our international partners and all of humanity."
During the mission, Orion made two approach flights to the moon - up to a distance of 130 km from the moon's surface. At its furthest distance during the mission, Orion flew nearly 420,000 km above Earth, more than a thousand times where the International Space Station orbits Earth, to test the systems before launching crew members.”
"With Orion's safe return to Earth, we can begin to see our next mission on the horizon, which will fly a crew to the Moon for the first time as part of the next era of exploration," said Jim Perry, NASA associate administrator for the Manned Systems Development Mission Directorate. "This journey begins our path to a regular pace of missions and a continuous human presence on the moon, to scientific discoveries and preparation for human missions to Mars."
Before entering the Earth's atmosphere, the crew module separates from its service module, provided by the European Space Agency. During entry into the atmosphere, the Orion spacecraft endured temperatures roughly as hot as the surface of the Sun, about 2,800 degrees Celsius. In about 20 minutes, Orion slowed from nearly 25,000 km/h to about 20 km/h so that it could make the rest of the way to the landing with the help of its parachutes.
During the flight test, Orion stayed in space longer than any spacecraft intended for astronauts has done without docking at a space station. While orbiting the far side of the Moon, Orion eclipsed the record for the distance traveled by a spacecraft designed to carry humans, previously set during the Apollo 13 mission.
"Orion returned from the Moon and returned safely to Earth," said Mike Serafin, Artemis I mission manager. The flight from the moon.”
Ground crews are now working to secure Orion for the journey home on the USS Portland. The ship's crew consists of personnel and assets from the U.S. Department of Defense, including Navy amphibious specialists, Space Force weather specialists, and Air Force specialists, as well as engineers and technicians from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the agency's Johnson Space Center in Houston, and space domain personnel. of Lockheed Martin.
In the coming days, Orion will return to shore, where technicians will disassemble the spacecraft and transport it by truck back to the Kennedy Space Center. When she gets there, crews will open the hatch and unload some cargo, incl The "commander" Monikin Campos, the experimental sets in space biology, Dog" Sanofi and the flight kit The official. The capsule and its heat shield will then be tested and analyzed over several months.
One of these experiments included mannequins wrapped in sensors designed to test the effect of radiation outside the Earth's radiation belt on the astronauts expected to fly on the next flights. The Israeli doll Zohar wore the radiation shield of the Israeli company Stamrad, while her German counterpart Helga was unprotected and served as a control group.
The dolls Zohar and Helga were used to test radiation protection using the Israeli AstroRad vest, developed by the Israeli StemRad with the support of the Israel Space Agency in the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Technology.
The vest is designed to protect the bodies of astronauts in deep space on their way to the Moon and Mars. This is a joint experiment of the Israeli Space Agency with its German counterpart which will test the degree of protection the suit provides against radiation in space. If the experiment is successful, there is a high chance that the technology will become standard in future deep space missions to the Moon and Mars.
Artemis 1 was the first integrated experiment of NASA's deep space exploration systems - the Orion spacecraft, the SLS rocket and the supporting ground systems - and was supported by thousands of people around the world, starting with the contractors who built the spacecraft and the rocket, and the ground infrastructure necessary for its launch, through international and university partners , and including small businesses that provide subsystems and components.
Through the Artemis missions, NASA will pave the way for a long-term lunar presence and serve as a stepping stone for astronauts on their way to Mars.
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