NASA’s Orion spacecraft has successfully reached the moon, marking the 50th anniversary of the Apollo program.
The craft flew around the moon, passing within 80 miles (128km). This was due to the capsule and three test dummies that were on the other side of the moon.
Houston flight controllers were then faced with a half hour communication blackout. They didn’t know if an engine firing was successful until the capsule emerged behind the moon.
Zeb Scoville, flight director, said that this was one of those days you have been talking about and thinking about for a long time.
Onboard cameras captured a picture of Earth as the capsule moved out from behind the moon. It was a blue dot with blackness surrounding it.
The capsule launched its main engine during the approach in a “powered flyby” burn, which put it on course for entering lunar orbit in four days.
If everything goes well, NASA will fire another engine to place the capsule into orbit on Friday. By next weekend, it will break NASA’s distance record.
The capsule will spend approximately a week in lunar orbit before returning home. A Pacific splashdown is planned for 11/12.