On the third day of the Artemis I mission, Orion focused on the Sun’s clothing and captured the Moon with the camera on the last column. It is now half way to the moon. Credit:
On the third day of its Artemis I journey, NASA’s uncrewed Orion spacecraft is now more than halfway to the Moon.
“Today, we met to review the Orion spacecraft performance, and it is exceeding performance expectations,” said Mike Sarafin, Artemis I mission manager.
Flight controllers used Orion’s cameras on Friday to inspect the crew module thermal protection system and European Service Module. This was the first of two planned external evaluations for the spacecraft. Teams conducted this survey early in the mission to provide detailed images of the spacecraft’s external surfaces after it has flown through the portion of Earth’s orbit where the majority of space debris resides.
The second inspection is required during the return phase to assess the overall condition of the spacecraft several days before re-entry. During both inspections, the Integrated Communications Officer, or INCO, commands cameras on the four solar array wings to take still images of the entire spacecraft, allowing experts to pinpoint any micrometeoroid or orbital debris strikes. The team in mission control at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston will review the imagery following the survey.
Artemis All Your latest access to Artemis 1, the people and art behind the mission, and what’s next. This free flight paves the way for an experiment around the Moon for exploration crew flights and future human exploration of the Moon as part of Diana. Credit: NASA
Over the past few days, the team has been tracking anomalous hunting data from the stars that is connected to the thruster ball. Star trails are sensitive cameras that take pictures of the field around the star Orion. By comparing the pictures with their constructions on the star maps, the star hunter can determine which way Orion is headed. Teams now understand the lessons and there are no operational changes.
NASA also received updates from the teams connecting to the 10 CubeSats that were delivered to space in the ring attached to the Launch System rocket’s upper stage. All 10 CubeSats successfully deployed per timer from the adapter. Each of the CubeSats missions are separate from Artemis. 1. Small satellites, each about the size of a shoe, are inherently high-risk, high-reward teams in various states of mission operations or concern in some cases.
NASA hosted a briefing (video embedded below) on Friday previewing Orion’s arrival at the lunar sphere of influence. To follow the mission in real-time, you can track Orion’s mission around the Moon and back, and click on the NASA TV schedule for updates on the latest televised events. The first episode of Diana’s All Access is now available (see embedded above) as a recap of the first three days of the show as we look forward to what’s next.
From NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, NASA’s Orion Space Preview will enter the moon’s sphere of influence and a pair of courses that will propel the spacecraft into distant retrograde lunar orbit. The Participant Briefing includes:
- Mike Sarafin, Artemis I mission manager, NASA Headquarters
- Jeff Radigan, flight director, NASA Johnson
- Jim Geffre, Orion vehicle integration manager, NASA Johnson
Orion’s entry into the Moon’s sphere of influence will make the Moon, instead of the Earth, the main gravitational force acting in space. The flight controllers harness the power from the moon’s gravity to develop a burning harness that accelerates the spacecraft and directs it to a remote retrograde orbit beyond the moon. During the outbound powered flight, Orion will make its closest approach – about 80 miles above the lunar surface. Four days later, another will burn using the European Orion Service Module to insert it into a remote retrograde orbit, where it will remain for about a week to test space systems.
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