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Splashdown! NASA's Orion spacecraft back on Earth after lunar mission

NASA Moon Rocket
Posted at 9:50 AM, Dec 11, 2022

The NASA Orion spacecraft returned to Earth on Sunday after a 25.5-day journey that sent it around the moon. Orion splashed into the Pacific Ocean not far from the coast of San Diego.

It was "stable and upright" following the spash down.

The spacecraft, part of NASA's Artemis I mission, returned to Earth after conducting a powered flyby of the moon. The flyby used lunar gravity to help assist Orion toward the Earth.

During the Artemis I mission, Orion set the distance record for a mission with a spacecraft designed to carry humans to deep space and back to Earth. At its maximum, Orion was 270,000 miles from Earth.

While Orion is unmanned, it could sustain a crew in orbit around the moon for up to 21 days. It could also run autonomously around the moon for six months.

This mission sets the stage for Artemis II in 2024, including a crew.

Since this flight is in preparation for a crewed mission to the moon, NASA included three mannequins inside Orion.

With its intended goal to eventually send mankind to Mars, NASA is looking to inspire the next generation of astronauts in the same fashion Apollo did in the 60s and 70s.

“I'm a product of the Apollo generation and look what it did for us. And I cannot wait to see what comes from the Artemis generation because I think it's going to inspire even more than Apollo did,” Bob Cabana, the associate administrator for NASA Headquarters, said