NASA's uncrewed Orion spacecraft returns to earthNews
December 12, 2022
WASHINGTON. NASA’s Orion spacecraft splashed down in the Pacific Ocean west of Baja California on Sunday, December 11, following an historic mission, during which it traveled more than 1.4 million miles on a path around the moon and carried out its Artemis I flight test.
Splashdown is the last piece of NASA's Artemis I mission, which began with a successful liftoff of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket in November from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and lasted 25 days, in a test of Orion in the harsh environment of deep space before flying astronauts on the planned Artemis II mission.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said of the mission: “The splashdown of the Orion spacecraft -- which occurred 50 years to the day of the Apollo 17 Moon landing -- is the crowning achievement of Artemis I. From the launch of the world’s most powerful rocket to the exceptional journey around the moon and back to earth, this flight test is a major step forward in the Artemis generation of lunar exploration. It wouldn’t be possible without the incredible NASA team. For years, thousands of individuals have poured themselves into this mission, which is inspiring the world to work together to reach untouched cosmic shores. Today is a huge win for NASA, the United States, our international partners, and all of humanity.”
Orion is being returned to shore so that technicians can truck it back to Kennedy; once there, NASA teams will unload payloads and experiments and will also put the capsule and heat shield through testing and analysis.