About two weeks after the launch of the Artemis 1 lunar mission, the unmanned Orion capsule has reached its furthest distance from Earth. The US space agency NASA said that the capsule was about 432,194 kilometers from Earth in orbit around the moon yesterday. It has never been further from Earth, nor is it planned for the remaining two weeks or so.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson has spoken of the mission’s “extraordinary success” so far. “It’s amazing how smoothly the job has gone so far.”
The Orion capsule had already set a record distance on Saturday when it passed the 249,000-mile mark (about 400,000 km) from Earth. That was the farthest a human-made spacecraft has traveled, according to NASA. The previous record was set more than 50 years ago by the Apollo 13 mission with 248,655 miles.
Halfway through the mission
After months of delays, the Artemis 1 mission blasted off for its first test run on November 16 (local time). The Orion capsule was launched by a Space Launch System rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Station in the US state of Florida. Yesterday was half the time for the mission, on Thursday the capsule should leave orbit around the Moon and land in the Pacific Ocean on December 11th after about two million kilometers of flight.
With the “Artemis” program, named after the Greek goddess of the moon, American astronauts are scheduled to land on the moon again in the coming years, including for the first time a woman and a non-white person.