Splashdown! Orion Home From the Moon

Splashdown! Orion Home From the Moon

NASA’s Orion spacecraft splashed down in the Pacific Ocean today after a 1.4 million mile journey to, around, and back from the Moon. No people were aboard this flight, but next time there will be. This was a full-up test of the Space Launch System rocket and the Orion crew capsule as the Artemis program gears up to return astronauts to the lunar surface three years from now.

Splashdown off the coast of the Baja Peninsula near Guadalupe Island was at 12:40 pm ET. The Artemis I test flight came to an end after a mission duration of 25 days 11 hours.

Cameras on the exterior of Orion sent back spectacular images throughout the mission including today as it drew ever closer to home.

Those photos were taken by cameras on Orion’s solar panels, part of the European Service Module that was provided by the European Space Agency as part of a NASA-ESA agreement associated with their partnership on the International Space Station.

The Crew Module and Service Module separated at 12:00 pm ET, freeing the Crew Module for its descent through the atmosphere protected by its heat shield. A camera inside the capsule then showed what astronauts will see when they make the trip on Artemis II in 2024.

Orion will stay in the water for about two hours waiting for hazardous gases to dissipate and Navy divers to take detailed photos of the capsule, especially the heat shield.  It will be brought aboard the USS Portland and taken to San Diego. From there it will be returned to Kennedy Space Center. KSC Director Janet Petro said it will arrive there in late December and they will open it shortly after the New Year.


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