NASA's Artemis spacecraft has successfully arrived at the moon after finally blasting off from Earth last week, according to the BBC. The Orion capsule swept 130 kilometres (80 miles) above the lunar surface and will now enter a larger orbit. The vehicle was out of contact for 34 minutes during this manoeuvre, which began at 6:14 pm IST, because it occurred on the Moon's far side.
Orion was 328 miles above the Moon and travelling at 5,023 mph at the time of the burn. It passed 81 miles above the Moon at 5,102 mph shortly after the burn. Since its launch last week, NASA says the mission has “exceeded expectations.”
“This is one of those days that you've been thinking about and dreaming about for a long, long time,” NASA flight director Zebulon Scoville said.
We just saw the Earth set behind the Moon this morning as we take the next human-rated vehicle around the Moon, preparing to return humans there in a few years. This is game-changing, Scoville said.
On Saturday, NASA also shared a series of stunning Orion selfies, showing the human-rated capsule gleaming against the darkness of space.
Orion Performs Lunar Flyby, Closest Outbound Approach
It will be the first time in half a century that a space capsule has completed a flyby of the moon. Artemis I is an unmanned mission that will test NASA's Space Launch System rocket and the Orion spacecraft before astronauts fly on a future mission.
If the mission is successful, Artemis I will be followed by a human trip around the moon (Artemis II) in 2024, which could result in the first woman and person of colour landing on the moon the following year.
“The launch of Orion last week was a historic day for human space flight. It's the first step we're taking toward long-term deep space exploration, not just for the United States, but for the entire world,” according to Howard Hu.
Today is a historic day for NASA, but it is also a historic day for all those who are interested in human space flight and deep space exploration, Hu added.