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Moon Waves USAF Thunderbird Goodbye on Orion Orbital Insertion Day

For nine days now space enthusiasts have been glued to their monitors or screens taking in the momentous occasion that is the Artemis I mission to the Moon. And they’ll have to do that for longer still, as it’ll take the Orion spaceship an extra 15 days to get back home.
The Moon and a Thunderbirds' F-16 24 photos
Photo: USAF/Staff Sgt. Andrew Sarver
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At the time of writing, Orion is getting ready to enter a distant retrograde orbit around the Moon. That pretty much means it will start going round the satellite, moving opposite the direction the Moon travels around Earth, in a maneuver expected to last six days that will put it on a path back to Earth.

The spaceship will perform the burns necessary to enter the retrograde orbit on Friday, November 25, starting at 4:52 p.m. EST. The moment is an important one for NASA as an organization, but also for the mission itself, so proper preparations – and celebrations – are in order.

As we were going through the many images the USAF recently released in a bid to find one suitable for our Photo of the Day coverage, we stumbled upon the pic we have here. It shows a Thunderbirds’ F-16 and the Moon in the background, and we found it to be the perfect way to mark the orbital insertion burn, but also the aerobatic's team successful year.

The photo is an older one, having been snapped back in early September during the KC Air Show in Gardner, Kansas, but the USAF only recently made it public.

Just like the people over at NASA, the USAF Thunderbirds had a pretty busy year, with the red, white and blue F-16s making appearances at some 70 air shows across 30 locations. The last Thunderbirds outing for the year took place in early November at Aviation Nation Air & Space Expo 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. For now, we have no details on the team's schedule for 2023.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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