The American “Orion” spacecraft flew close to the moon again on the 5th, and then started the return flight. It is expected to return to Earth on the 11th.
The website of NASA announced that the “Orion” spacecraft adjusted its flight trajectory at 11:43 U.S. Eastern Time on the 5th (0:43 Beijing Time on the 6th) and began to return to Earth. When the spacecraft flew over the moon that day, it was 127 kilometers away from the lunar surface, which was the shortest distance from the moon during this orbital flight.
The Associated Press quoted Sandra Jones, the narrator of the ground control center, as saying: “‘Orion’ is now going home with one heart.” It splashed down in the waters near San Diego, California, USA.
NASA officials said the “Orion” spacecraft is currently performing better than expected. However, the spacecraft still faces the biggest challenge of this trip, that is, whether it can successfully re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere. At that time, the spacecraft will fly at a speed of more than 30,000 kilometers per hour. Under huge pressure and friction, the surface temperature of the spacecraft will be close to 3,000 degrees Celsius.
The “Orion” spacecraft was launched on November 16 by the “Space Launch System”, a new generation of American moon landing rocket, carrying three mannequins simulating astronauts, and carried out the “Artemis 1” flight test mission around the moon. After the success of this mission, NASA will launch the “Artemis 2” manned flight test around the moon, and then launch the astronaut mission to the moon.
The U.S. government announced a new moon landing program “Artemis” in 2019. It originally planned to send American astronauts to the moon again before 2024, but it was postponed many times due to insufficient budget and other reasons. The current plan is to return American astronauts to the moon as early as 2025.