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Orion spacecraft makes final swoop of moon and heads home to Earth

NASA’s Orion capsule made one last swoop around Moon on its return home. It also stopped at a few Apollo landing sites along the way.

The capsule was within 80 miles of the far side moon. It used lunar gravity as a slingshot to return to Earth on the 381,414km (3237,000-mile) journey.

It spent one week in a broad, expansive lunar orbit.

Orion, after emerging from behind the moon, reestablished communication with Houston flight controllers. Orion sent back photos of the close-up moon as well as Earthrise in the distance.

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Sandra Jones, mission control commentator, said that “Orion now has it sights set on home.”

It is planning to splash down in the Pacific on Sunday, just off San Diego’s coast.

Officials claim that the three-week-long test flight exceeded all expectations.

More information about Nasa

Image Artemis I was the name of an unmanned mission to reach the moon.

The biggest challenge lies ahead: hitting the atmosphere at over 30 times the speed sound and surviving the fiery return.

The capsule passed by the Apollo 12 and 14 landing sites during its lunar orbit this week.

It was 1,931km (1,200 miles) high, but it was impossible to see the descent stages of the lunar landingers, or any other remnants left by astronauts over 50 years.

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Orion was launched on 16 November aboard the first flight of NASA‘s most powerful rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS).

The next flight, which will be in 2024, will attempt to transport four astronauts around Earth’s moon.

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A new footage from space of Earth

The third mission, scheduled for 2025 will be the first lunar landing of astronauts since the Apollo moon program ended 50 years ago.

Apollo 17 was launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre on 7 December 1972. It carried Eugene Cernan Harrison Schmitt, Ron Evans, and other astronauts.

Three days was the longest time Mr Cernan and Mrs Schmitt spent on the lunar surface. Mr Evans orbited it.

Only Mr Schmitt remains alive.

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