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Orion is ready to fly over the moon

Orion is ready to fly over the moon

On November 21, the Orion of the Artemis 1 mission will perform one of the most important maneuvers of the entire mission. At 13:57 Italian time, a near-moon pass is expected, as the capsule is expected to fly above the surface at an altitude of about 130 km (80 miles). This maneuver will allow it to gain the speed and position needed to enter DRO’s orbit, where Orion will remain for about seven days.

NASA will follow up this maneuver with a live Sue motion NASA TV, which will start at 11:15 am Italian. Instead, the thrusters were scheduled to ignite at 13:44 Italian time, while Italian time contact with the capsule would be lost between 13:29 and 13:59, since it would pass behind the moon. Therefore, a significant part of the maneuver will be performed completely automatically and independently. As mentioned earlier, the closest pass is scheduled for 13:57 and will occur at an altitude of 130 km.

Once this flyby is performed, Orion will enter DRO orbit, which will arrive on mission day 10. It will take four days for the capsule to reach this orbit, which as the name suggests (far retrograde orbit) very far from the surface: about 70,000 km. However, it is a very stable orbit for the capsule, thanks to the interaction it will have with the Lagrangian points of the Earth-Moon system.

Trajectory diagram of Artemis 1 (above). In the image below, the path around the moon is enlarged. The number 1 indicates the first flight maneuver, scheduled for November 21. Credits: NASA

Fourth day and fifth day of the task

It was November 19th Fourth day of the mission. NASA ran several tests on the solar panels, moving them in different positions, to find the best one for transmitting data. In particular, the best data transmission mode was measured from cameras placed at the ends of the solar panels and on-board controllers. Another important test was carried out on the capsule radiators placed on the European Service Unit.

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These radiators are used to dissipate the excess heat produced by the on-board systems. Flight controllers tested sensors that maintain coolant flow in the radiator loops, switch between operating modes and monitor performance. The latest test instead took place on Star Trackers, a camera system that detects the capsule’s position by observing the relative position of fixed stars. These Star Trackers appear to have experienced problems during launch, due to unexpected vibration caused by the capsule’s thrusters. It seems that the problem has been fully understood and resolved.

A reference to the Startrackers website on Orion.
Startrackers website statement at Orion.ion

It was November 20th instead Fifth day of the mission. At 13:12 Italian, the capsule engaged the thrusters again, in its third course-correction maneuver. However, at 20:12, it entered the gravitational field of the moon’s influence. This means that from that moment on, it is the Moon that generates a greater gravitational force on the capsule than the Earth.

Over the past two days, the Orion capsule has begun to look at the moon, photographing it with optical cameras. These images are already allowing NASA to test back-up navigation systems, using the moon itself as a reference for the capsule’s position.

For all updates on Orion’s website and its upcoming maneuvers, we’ve created This article is constantly updated.

To see in real time the position of Orion, lNASA created this site: Track Artemis.

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