A NASA space capsule flew around the moon on Monday, marking the first time the space agency has reached the lunar object with a craft designed for occupancy since 1972.
NASA’s Orion capsule left Earth during the early morning hours of November 16, atop the most powerful rocket ever created by the space agency for a mission expected to last 25 days, 11 hours, and 36 minutes. .
The capsule is expected to travel 1.3 million miles before landing off the coast of Baja California on December 11.
NASA’S ARTEMIS 1 MISSION: MEGARROKET AND ORION SPACECRAFT LAUNCH SUCCESSFULLY IN THE MIDST OF HISTORIC RETURN TO THE MOON
But before the capsule returns, NASA plans to have it in orbit around the moon for six days.
The Artemis program is NASA’s latest plan to revisit the moon.
The capsule, loaded with three mannequins, headed for the dark side of the Moon, where communication with Earth was interrupted for half an hour.
The blackout, according to the Associated Press, left flight controllers in Houston wondering if a critical engine ignition went well. The capsule then appeared behind the Moon, 232,000 miles from Earth.
NASA’S ARTEMIS I LAUNCHES TO CLOSE US TO ‘SUSTAINABLE HUMAN FOOTPRINT ON THE MOON’
As the Orion space capsule circled the moon, it took a picture of Earth. In a tweet, NASA said: “Artemis I will soon surpass Apollo 13’s record distance from Earth in a spacecraft designed to carry astronauts.”
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The last time NASA sent astronauts to the moon was during the last mission of the Apollo program in December 1972.