Orion Spaceship Is Now as Far From Earth as It’ll Ever Get, Heading Back Home

268,563 miles, or 432,210 km. That’s the distance the Orion spaceship reached on November 28 at 3 p.m. CST, and it’s the farthest point the capsule will ever touch in its journey to a point well past the Moon and back.
Orion spacecraft looking back at the Moon 7 photos
Orion moving further from the MoonThe Orion spaceship and the Moon in the distanceThe Orion spaceship and the Moon in the distanceThe Orion spaceship and the Moon in the distanceThe Orion spaceship and the Moon in the distanceThe Orion spaceship and the Moon in the distance
That means, from this point forward, the Orion is officially on its way back home, where it will get about 12 days from now. So far, all systems are still in working order, says NASA.

“Because of the unbelievable can-do spirit, Artemis I has had extraordinary success and has completed a series of history making events,” said in a statement NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.

“It’s incredible just how smoothly this mission has gone, but this is a test. That’s what we do – we test it and we stress it.”

Almost halfway through the mission, NASA engineers are just 37.5 percent done with the planned tests of the Orion and its systems. That’s because, they say, many of the remaining ones have to do with atmospheric re-entry back here on Earth, but also descent, splashdown, and recovery – for this last task, NASA is hard at work prepping for operations in the Pacific Ocean together with the U.S. Navy.

But there’s still plenty of time left until then, and the space agency has a lot to do while in space still. One aspect they’re considering looking deeper into is “adding seven additional test objectives” to the roster. These new objectives would seek to determine “the spacecraft’s thermal environment and propulsion system” in a bid to “reduce risk before flying future missions with crew.”

To date, Orion used 5,640 pounds of propellant, about 150 pounds fewer than expected. More than 2,000 pounds of fuel margin remains. At the time of writing (13 days and 2.5 hours into the mission), the spaceship is at 267,500 miles (430,499 km) from Earth and 43,819 miles (70,519 km) from the Moon, moving at 1,707 mph (2,747 kph).


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