The Orion spacecraft performed the return powered flyby burn in what was the last big maneuver required to get the spacecraft on the right trajectory for Earth.
The Orion spacecraft of NASA’s Artemis I mission made its closest approach to the surface of the Moon on Monday in order to take advantage of the satellite’s gravity and accelerate its return to Earth. At 1642 UTC, the spacecraft passed just 128.5 kilometers from the lunar surface. At that moment, the return powered flyby burn was carried out, which lasted approximately 3 minutes and 27 seconds, changing the spacecraft’s speed by approximately 1,070 kilometers per second. NASA took to Twitter to post photographs of the spacecraft’s nearest approach to the lunar surface, showing in the distance a crescent Earth, home to over 8 billion people.
We've completed our return powered flyby burn and are heading home! pic.twitter.com/awelzovlRP
— Orion Spacecraft (@NASA_Orion) December 5, 2022
The Twitter account of the Artemis Mission wrote, “We’ve completed our return powered flyby burn and are heading home!” The recent return powered flyby burn performed by the mission is the last big maneuver required to get the spacecraft on the right trajectory for Earth. Now, a few smaller trajectory corrections will be performed when and if needed by mission control on Earth. If everything goes to plan, and so far it has, we expect the Artemis I mission to splash down in the Pacific Ocean on December 11, 2022. The spacecraft will have a speed of 25,00 miles per hour during reentry. This is equivalent to Mach 32 speed. Artemis I has so far been a huge success. The mission has paved the way for humankind’s return to the lunar surface, which is expected to occur during the Artemis III mission in around three years.