The historic Artemis I mission has successfully completed its journey after almost a month of round trip to the Moon. The Orion capsule of this unmanned mission, which serves as the first test for the expedition that will take astronauts to the Moon for the first time since 1972, submerged in the Pacific Ocean at 12:40 p.m. Eastern USA (17:40 GMT) on this Sunday.
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On its descent journey, the spacecraft, protected by a 5-meter-wide heat shield, has been subjected to about 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit (2,800 degrees Celsius), equivalent to half the temperature at the surface of the Sun, as it has warned. the US space agency. The ship will now be towed to a naval base in San Diego, California (USA), from where it will then be transferred to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, for the corresponding evaluations.
The recovery teams, made up of members of the US Navy and NASA engineers, were already this morning in the vicinity of the island of Guadalupe, off the coast of Baja California (Mexico) to await the arrival of the capsule. . On board the USS Portland Navy amphibious ship, the members of the team have carried out operations and simulations in the last few hours with a view to the success of the ship’s tow, which has crossed the Earth’s atmosphere at a speed of 25,000 miles per hour (40,000 km/h).
The atmosphere has slowed the speed to 480 km/h and has raised the temperature around the vehicle to 2,800ºC, which will serve to test the built-in heat shields. Once that heat zone was overcome, the parachutes were deployed. During its descent, once the atmosphere has reduced the ship’s speed to about 324 miles per hour (520 km/h), the progressive deployment of a system of eleven parachutes has begun, which has allowed it to reach the surface of the sea at just under 20 miles per hour (32 km/h).
Over the next two hours, NASA engineers will collect information on how the high temperatures it experienced during re-entry impacted the spacecraft and whether it had an effect on the temperature of the crew cabin, now occupied only by mannequins.
The mission already achieved an important milestone when it reached a distance of 434,522 kilometers (270,000 miles) from Earth late last month, the maximum distance achieved by a spacecraft designed to transport humans and surpassing the record set by the 1970 Apollo 13 mission. .
The overall goal of NASA’s Artemis program is to return humans to the Moon for the first time in half a century, and the Artemis I mission will test NASA’s Orion spacecraft and its European Service Module during a roundtrip voyage back to the moon The SLS rocket, with a height greater than a 30-story building (98 meters), has cost NASA about 4,000 million dollars. The agency has had to delay the departure of the mission four times, twice for technical reasons and another two for meteorological reasons.
Artemis I’s journey began on November 16, when it successfully took off towards the Moon from the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, in the state of Florida, in the United States. During six weeks of travel, the spacecraft, with two mannequins inside, reached lunar orbit using the satellite’s gravity to gain speed and then propel itself almost half a million kilometers from Earth, farther than it has ever traveled. no spacecraft capable of holding people inside.
The Orion spacecraft reached lunar orbit on November 21 and stayed there for about a week to test the spacecraft’s systems. The distant retrograde orbit carried Orion 64,373 km past the Moon before returning to Earth. Orion’s greatest distance from Earth occurred on Monday, November 28, at more than 432,108 km, and from our satellite, on Friday, November 25, at more than 92,134 km.