USA TODAY International Edition
NASA spacecraft reaches the far side of the moon
BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – NASA’s Artemis I Orion spacecraft completed a powered flyby maneuver on the far side of the moon Monday, bringing it just 81 miles above the surface at 7: 57 a. m. ET, a move that hasn’t been tried by a humanrated spacecraft since NASA’s Apollo 17 mission in 1972.
The outbound powered flyby was the result of one of four positioning burns of Orion’s Orbital Maneuvering System engine planned during the 26- day Artemis I mission to the moon and back.
The mission represents a milestone since NASA’s Apollo program. The $ 4.1 billion test flight began Wednesday. During Monday’s livestream, NASA spokesperson Sandra Jones said the outbound powered flyby was necessary to bring Orion “close enough to the lunar surface to leverage the moon’s gravitational force and swing the spacecraft around the moon toward entry into distant retrograde orbit.”
During a half- hour communication blackout, flight controllers in Houston couldn’t confirm whether the critical engine firing went well, until the capsule emerged from behind the moon. Orion then soared above Tranquility Base, where Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on July 20, 1969.
The capsule’s cameras sent back a picture of the world.
“Our pale blue dot and its 8 billion human inhabitants now coming into view,” said Jones.