Monday’s flyby of the moon brought the unmanned Orion spacecraft within 81 miles of the lunar surface, following its dramatic launch atop NASA’s new Space Launch System (SLS) rocket from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Wednesday, November 16.
Key technology for future crewed flights to the moon and beyond are being tested on this inaugural Artemis voyage by NASA.
The Orion will reach the furthest point from Earth ever traveled by a human-rated spaceship this coming Saturday. In a record-setting feat 52 years ago, the Apollo 13 spaceship sent three men a total of 248,655 miles beyond Earth.
On Monday at 4:06 p.m. ET, two days later, the Orion will break the record distance between Earth and a spacecraft by traveling 268,552 miles.
Watch the Earth appear from behind the moon in this breathtaking video obtained by one of the Orion’s cameras.
NASA noted that “Earth rises from behind the moon” in the footage, which was shot by a camera on one of Orion’s solar array wings. On flight day six of the 25.5 day Artemis I mission, the video was shot at 8:05 a.m. ET, just after the outgoing powered flyby and six minutes after the spacecraft recovered connection with NASA’s Deep Space Network.
It was just announced by NASA that the Artemis I mission has so far succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. On December 11, the spacecraft will land in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California. Then, as part of the Artemis II mission, NASA will send the Orion on the same route, this time with humans on board. When NASA lands its Artemis III spacecraft on the moon, it will be the first time an astronaut has touched down on the lunar surface since the last Apollo mission in 1972.