Orion begins return leg of Artemis 1 mission
NASA’s Orion spacecraft started its trip back to Earth Dec. 1 with the first of two maneuvers that will put the spacecraft on course for a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean in a week and a half, News.Az reports citing Space News.
The main engine in Orion’s service module fired at 4:53 p.m. Eastern for 1 minute at 45 seconds. That burn nudged the spacecraft out of the distant retrograde orbit around the moon it had been in since Nov. 25.
Orion is now descending back towards the moon, where it will perform a second maneuver, called the return powered flyby, on Dec. 5. That will set up Orion for a reentry and splashdown off the California coast Dec. 11.
At a Nov. 30 briefing, NASA managers said the spacecraft continued to perform well with only minor issues. “We are very proud that our system is functioning perfectly. It’s better than we ever expected,” said Philippe Deloo, ESA program manager for the European Service Module. The spacecraft was producing more electrical power than expected but consuming less than expected because of better thermal stability.