After a 25-day mission to the moon, NASA’s Orion spacecraft successfully reached the Pacific Ocean.
The uncrewed capsule, which was designed to carry astronauts on future missions, landed in Guadalupe Island just after 5.40 PM UK time.
The spacecraft was speeding towards Earth at 25,000 mph. It then slowed to 325 mph once it entered the atmosphere. After that, 11 parachutes were deployed and the craft dropped to less than 20 mph.
It was launched from Earth on NASA’s Space Launch System rocket (SLS), on 16 November as part of the Artemis-1 mission, which succeeded the Apollo programme. This launch marked a new era in lunar exploration and human potential return to the moon.
It made history nine days later by traveling 270,000 miles beyond Earth, the longest distance any spacecraft intended to transport humans has ever traveled.
It now has more than 1.4million miles.
On Sunday, it was 50 years since the last time astronauts landed on the Moon. Apollo 17’s Eugene Cernan (Apollo 17) and Harrison Schmitt (Apollo 17) spent three days exploring Taurus-Littrow after touching down on December 11, 1972.
Orion was the first spacecraft to reach the moon.
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Although there may not have been any humans on the mission, Snoopy the Sheep and Shaun the Sheep returned from the long-haul journey with three mannequin astronauts, Commander Moonikin Campos and Helga. They were equipped with radiation monitors and vibration sensors.
The capsule will be pulled from the sea by recovery teams.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson stated that he was overwhelmed and added, “This is an extraordinary date.” It is historic because we are going back into space, deep space, with a new generation.
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The Artemis-1 mission was all about testing systems. However, NASA’s Artemis II flight test is scheduled for 2024 and will feature astronauts who will fly around Earth.
Artemis II, if successful, will open the door to Artemis III which could lead to the landing of the first woman and the next man on the Moon. This could be as soon as 2025.
NASA’s long-term plans for building a space station, called Lunar Gateway, where humans can live and work are part of the Artemis missions.